How to Talk To a Family Member About Seeking Mental Health Treatment

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Nearly 1 in 5 adults in America live with a mental illness. That means there’s a good chance that someone in your family has some mental health concerns that impact their daily life.

If you’ve noticed that a mental health problem is having a negative impact on someone you care about, you likely want to help. One way to do that is by encouraging the family member to pursue mental health treatment.

However, you need to be careful about how you do this. You want the person to feel that you support them, not that you think there’s something wrong with them. We’ll tell you how to do that in this blog post. Keep reading to learn more.

Know What to Look For

The first step of this process is being able to identify the warning signs of mental health issues. You need to be able to distinguish between the behaviors that can be indicative of mental health concerns and those that are likely not.

This list highlights some of the main warning signs that an individual may be experiencing mental health problems

  • Frequent mood changes
  • Loss of interest
  • Unusual behavior
  • A decline in functioning at work, school, or other activities
  • Withdrawal from activities the person previously enjoyed
  • Being disconnected from others

The more of these symptoms that a person is experiencing, the greater the chance that they are having a mental health problem. Once you identify that, you can take action by encouraging the person to begin working with a mental health professional.

How to Have the Conversation

Talking about mental health can be a challenge because it’s not something we do very often as a society. But it’s important to have the conversation despite its perceived awkwardness. Doing so could be the instigating spark that someone you care about needs to overcome issues that are dragging their enjoyment of life down.

So, how do you talk about mental health?

The exact words that you use aren’t as important as your overall attitude and message. Try not to tell them what they should do. Instead, tell the person that you care about them and that you want to be there for them while they experience these struggles.

Don’t tell the person that their feelings or invalid. Or that their concerns are minor. When you do those things, people tend to shut down. You want to keep the lines of communication about this topic open so be supportive instead of prescriptive.

That being said, you can encourage the person to pursue mental health treatment. When you bring this topic up, the language that you use can be important. One way to do it is by asking them a question like this,

“Have you given any thought to working with a counselor?”

Notice how the phrasing of this question simply seeks to spark a dialogue between you and the person. That should be your goal during your first few conversations.

The person can respond in one of two ways. Either they have thought about working with a counselor, in which case you can encourage them to follow through and offer material support, such as rides to and from appointments. Or they haven’t.

If the person hasn’t thought about working with a counselor or is resistant to the idea, try to outline the benefits of doing so to them. We’ve included those in the next section to help you prepare.

Why Working With a Mental Health Professional Matters

Mental health professionals have spent years learning the ins and outs of mental health issues and the best ways to treat them. They have a level of expertise that can be indispensable to a person’s healing process.

Additionally, it can be challenging to resolve mental health issues without external support. That’s because mental health problems often impact the way that a person thinks. And they may not be able to achieve the mental clarity they need to heal unless they have guided assistance from an outside source.

Where to Pursue Mental Health Treatment

As you talk to your family member about getting mental health treatment, it can be helpful to suggest a place for them to go instead of asking for them to look for help on your own.

Zoe Behavioral Health is one place that you should look into for this. We offer a wide variety of mental health and substance abuse treatment plans — each of which will give your loved one the chance to work directly with an experienced mental health professional.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help.