Helping your loved one through the treatment and recovery process can be difficult. As much as we wish there was a “one size fits all” plan that we could share with you, this simply isn’t the case. The truth is, there is no single way to advocate for or support someone suffering through mental health challenges. Every person, every situation and every recovery is unique and different. How things will work out will largely depend on the level of trust and collaboration that exists between yourself, your loved one and their care team. Building strong relationships with everyone who will be involved in your loved one’s care will take effort, resiliency and at times, lots of patience.
Support your Loved One
Your loved one is the expert on themselves so let them guide the process. While it may often seem easier to just jump in and help, never assume, always ask your loved one if they feel that they want or even need help. Respect their wishes. If your loved one is not engaged in the process, it is doomed to fail before it even begins. When a person feels that they are in control of the direction of their treatment plan, they are far more likely to feel empowered and ultimately follow through.
With that said, you can still help to facilitate change through the things that you do. Remember, you have control over your life and your actions, while your loved one has control over theirs. An open relationship with your loved one can go a long way to building trust, keeping everyone informed and supporting your loved one’s care goals.
Find a Family Focused Care Team
When family members are able to be part of the treatment team, the family structure is strengthened which in turn helps the individual to recover more fully and in a more sustainable way. When looking for a therapist for your loved one, ask about family engagement. Does the agency value the role of families? Do they actively seek to engage families in the treatment plan? What support do they have for families? Are they willing to work with both you and your loved one? How will they work with you and your loved one – together, separately or a combination of the two?
When no one will listen
The law and professional ethics require that doctors, nurses and counsellors keep everything that they discuss with their clients/patients confidential unless consent is provided. This may leave you feeling isolated and not included in your loved one’s care at times. This can be frustrating, but if your loved one is considered competent and doesn’t consent, they can’t share information with you. But this doesn’t mean that they can’t or won’t consider information that you provide. If there is something that you feel your loved ones treatment team should know, tell them. Write a letter, leave a voicemail or speak directly to them. They will not be able to answer any questions you have or speak specifically about your loved one, but they can listen to what you have to say.
The final decision to accept or consider this information rests with the clinician, however you can help to facilitate this decision by doing these next few things.