Seeing a loved one suffer is heartbreaking. It’s common and natural to want to fix things for the people we care about, but taking care of them often can also wear down your mental health. You might feel like you’ve hit a point where, if things don’t change, you’re not sure how much longer you can go on. Especially if you’re trying to help someone who doesn’t want it, you’re probably frustrated and scared. While it’s natural to want to fix what’s broken, sometimes, the more we push, the fewer things go our way. If you’re currently in this situation, we’re offering some tips for getting mental help for someone who doesn’t want it.
Some people with mental health disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder refuse mental health treatment, usually because they aren’t aware of their illness or they’re in denial of their mental illness. This condition is formally known as anosognosia.
Loved ones can persuade individuals who have mental health disorders and refuse treatment by patiently working with them or offering them a reward if they do so. Others continue to refuse treatment, and in such cases, any remaining options vary depending on the state. The most effective of these options are outpatient treatment like PHP, conditional release, and mental health courts.
But the question lies in how to get someone mental help when they refuse. Can you force someone to get mental health treatment?
While you generally can’t force someone to get mental help, the Florida Baker Act allows doctors, mental health professionals, judges, and law enforcement in Florida to commit an individual to a mental health rehab for up to 72 hours if they display certain violent or suicidal behaviors. So if a person with a mental health disorder is in danger of hurting themselves or others, they may be placed in a mental health facility.
While you may want to help your loved one overcome their battle with mental illness, you can’t force anyone to do anything unless they pose a threat to themselves or others. It’s also normal to struggle with recovery, and it’s important to place yourself in the person’s shoes.
Maybe you hit a point in life when you wanted to make a change – it could be losing weight or eating better. The more someone asks about your food habits or works out, the more irritated you’d get. When we do this to others, we increase their resistance to making good choices.
Fortunately, there are several ways of getting mental help for someone who doesn't want it without forcing or cornering them.
Especially if your relationship with this person is iffy, it doesn’t hurt to just listen. Ask them what’s going on and sit quietly and patiently as they vent to you. Make eye contact and face them with your body to show you’re engaged and listening.
Validate their feelings by responding with, “Yeah, that sounds hard” or “That seems very difficult for you." When people don’t feel like they’ll be heard, their feelings will be invalidated, and they’re less likely to reach out for help. By acknowledging their struggles, you’re opening the door to more conversations and eventually to actively searching for a treatment center for mental health.
In our flurry to get this person help, we often neglect to simply ask the person what they want! Just like we’d ask a child who’s crying what’s wrong, it’s important to ask your loved one why they’re feeling the way they are.
Not only will this open the floor for honest conversation, but it also keeps them in the loop. As we mentioned previously, you can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to do, so it’s important to find out what they want and find ways to support their goals in ways you can both agree on.
If they’re willing, you can also ask them to consider doing what you want them to do. Medication is a common example. Many people with severe mental health disorders will stop taking their medication because of anosognosia or side effects, so it’s understandable why they’d be hesitant to keep taking them.
There is a time and place for advice, and that’s when the person asks for it. If they haven’t asked you to fix the situation or for your opinion, just show your support. It’s easy to make things about yourself when your immediate reaction is to fix something or give advice. Instead, be more open to listening to them unless they ask for your opinion.
There may be times when you might even agree with them. Once you give people the space to feel heard, their walls go down, and they’re more open to a conversation about getting help.
Another major mistake people make when navigating how to get someone psychiatric help when they refuse is to explore treatment options without them. While you might be around to witness their symptoms and behavior, you can’t read the person’s mind, so how would you know what they need?
Additionally, if the person says, “I don’t want to do this,” you might make it more difficult for yourself and them by demanding it. It’s okay to ask, “What do you want to do?” or “What treatment option sounds good to you?”
You can even start small and avoid talking about the illness itself until they become more comfortable with the idea of getting treatment. For instance, you might start with work, relationships, life, stress, sleep, and then bring up the possibility of treatment. In this way, you show them how their life is being affected by their mental health disorder and the importance of getting professional support.
We can’t help others if we don’t help ourselves, and often people who try to help loved ones with mental health disorders neglect their own well-being. But it’s difficult to be patient and understanding when we’re tired and worn out.
If you’ve been helping a loved one with their mental illness, reach out to other caregivers for support and advice. It’s important to have someone to talk to who understands what you’re going through and can keep you grounded.
Our Florida mental health rehab offers family therapy to help the family members, spouses, and close friends who have helped a loved one with mental illness. We incorporate both individual and group counseling sessions to offer clients the privacy, motivation, and support they need to recover from their own stress and exhaustion and stick around for their loved ones.
If your spouse or family member with mental illness refuses help, our rehab center is here for you. We encourage you to practice the tips listed above so you can gradually open your loved one up to the possibility of getting professional support for their disorder.
When they finally accept to move forward in recovery, we’ll be here waiting to help. Our Florida mental health treatment includes various disorder-specific programs for conditions like anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and more. We also utilize various mental health treatment methods to ensure clients are receiving individualized treatment that meets their needs.