Tough but Needed Love: A Family Guide to Staging a Mental Health Intervention

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If someone you love is suffering from a mental health issue, it may be up to you to do something about it.

The truth is if the person has a psychological condition or has become addicted to a substance to cope with a condition, they may not be able to get help on their own. Addictions can come in many forms, from drugs to online behaviors. That’s when you and others need to come together and do something about it.

Staging a mental health intervention can be daunting, but done properly you can minimize conflict while getting your loved one the help they need.

Let’s take a look at some strategies for an intervention…

Learn the Warning Signs

Before you decide if a loved one is someone who needs therapy, you need to first be able to identify problematic behavior.

Not all mental health conditions require mental health intervention. For example, sometimes people can suffer from mild or moderate depression or anxiety, that they are able to manage through self-help and medical support.

However, when the nature of the mental illness becomes destructive to the person or to the people around them, then it may be time to take action.

This could be violent behavior towards others, inflicting self-harm, or risky behavior. The person may be taking time off work without going through the proper channels, putting their career at risk. They may also be having run-ins with the law.

At the same time, the person who is suffering from mental illness may also not acknowledge they have a problem. They may not know the signs or are too immersed in the illness to see outside of it.

One example of this is psychosis. This is the possible result of a mental illness that leads people to believe in things that aren’t real. They may even see or hear things that don’t exist.

Once the problem has been identified, you can move on to get them help.

Decide Who Will Be on Your Team

Staging an intervention doesn’t have to be a solo mission, and in fact, is better with numbers for safety. However, you need to decide who will be part of the intervention, whether it’s the loved ones most trusted friends, kids, or even a mentor. Try not to choose anyone that is overly emotional or angry, that could go off script during the intervention.

You can also include a professional in the group to improve the process, which we’ll get to. When the person sees people they trust, they may be more likely to cooperate.

Write a Script and Rehearse It

Having to stage a mental health intervention for a loved one will likely be stressful for everyone involved. With that said, you need to use direct communication to make it effective.

One way you can help minimize the impact is by agreeing on a script with other family members or friends who are helping. Write down what you want to say, so your words come across clearly during the intervention. You can even rehearse different scenarios including if the person needing help doesn’t respond well.

You may want to write down specific examples of how their behavior has affected themselves or others if they don’t believe you or want proof.

Find a Mental Health Intervention Professional

You may want to bring in expert help to help the intervention go more smoothly. An intervention specialist has vast experience in how to stage an intervention and can help convince your loved one that getting help is the best option for everybody.

They can also help you come up with the right words to use during the intervention, and keep communication flowing.

Choose the Right Time

If your loved one has an addiction problem, then you won’t want to approach them when they’re intoxicated. Choose a time when they’re sober, or at least able to communicate properly.

This could mean you stage the intervention in the early hours of the day before they have a chance to use drugs. You may also want to choose a more public place than home for the intervention, where they are less likely to lock themselves in a room to escape.

Be Open and Calm

This one may be easier said than done because an intervention can be an emotional time,

You may have a lot of built up emotions about a loved one’s behavior due to mental illness and addiction. However, being aggressive or confrontational towards them is probably not going to make the intervention any easier.

Try to use open body language (hint: don’t keep your arms crossed the whole time) and non-threatening gestures. Your body language is important to support words of encouragement and concern that you have already prepared.

Don’t Focus on Blame

Shaming the person or judging them for their behavior may cause them to fall further into crisis. Try to instead focus on your concern for their well-being and those around them.

Also, you can let the person know you understand they aren’t deliberately acting out of turn. Educate yourself about addiction and how it’s the result of chemical imbalances in the brain and not a deliberate behavior to hurt others. Tell them you still love them despite the illness.

Early Mental Health Intervention Is Key

Research shows that the earlier you recognize the signs and get mental health assistance for someone, the better the outcome. When the problem has been addressed, treatments including medications and therapy can start the recovery process and future management.

There are many factors involved in mental health, and it often requires a professional to help you sort them out. Getting help staging a successful intervention can change the path of a loved one, leading to a better quality of life for everyone.

Prevention is the biggest ally to avoid a mental health intervention in the first place. This can possibly be achieved by identifying risk factors such as family history, trauma, and negative lifestyles.

In the meantime, read about how you can actually help manage some cases of anxiety and depression by adding probiotics to your diet.

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