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How to Do a Mental Health Intervention

Most people think of interventions as things that are done for people with addictions, but people who need help with mental health challenges can also benefit from this approach. A lot of mental illnesses are characterized by a sense of mental paralysis – an inability to take action even when the need is recognized. Anyone who has experienced an episode of depression can attest to the fact that when you’re in that state, it can take every ounce of energy just to get dressed and brush your teeth, let alone reach out to a professional for help.

Mental illness can have far-reaching impacts that go beyond the individual. Family members may suffer as a result of relationships eroding; work colleagues may have to take up the slack of someone who is unable to perform their job responsibilities; childcare and household chores like cleaning and paying bills may be neglected.

It is reasonable, in these circumstances, to ask your loved one to get help, but this should be done in a way that does not make them feel that they are being attacked, criticized, or coerced. A mental health intervention led by a trained professional can help you accomplish this goal and increase the chances of the individual accepting help.

What Is a Mental Health Intervention?

A mental health intervention is similar to an addiction intervention in the sense that it is a meeting in which a person is asked by their loved ones to get help for the issues affecting them. There are some differences between the two kinds of interventions: a mental health intervention typically involves fewer people and the desired outcomes may be different. For instance, in almost every addiction intervention, the addicted person is told that if they do not enter treatment immediately, they will face consequences such as being asked to move out of the home. The immediate goal of a mental health intervention may be for the person to visit a doctor to talk about medication, or a further meeting with the same group to talk about what treatment options are available.

Staging A Successful Mental Health Intervention

We use the word “staging” with reference to interventions because in many respects, this event does resemble a staged performance. Like any theatrical production, a successful intervention requires the right people, the right timing, a script for each participant, and some rehearsing.

The tips that follow will help you as you plan a mental health intervention for your loved one.

Engage a Professional Interventionist

A mental health intervention is a lot more involved than getting a few people together to talk to someone who is struggling. A great deal of planning and research have to go into it, and an intervention professional can help keep the research focused on what is really needed. They are also, in most cases, well connected with a variety of treatment options, and are able to help the participants formulate a desired course of action for the person they are trying to help. When it comes time for the intervention itself, the interventionist can keep the meeting focused and deal with any escalations of emotion that may occur.

professional interventionist

Choose the Participants

This is a difficult process, because you have to get the number just right. One the one hand, too few participants could result in the message not being taken to heart. On the other hand, too many could result in the person feeling attacked. The number of people to involve will vary depending on the characteristics of the person, but no matter what that number is, there is one crucial element to bear in mind: each participant has to truly care about the individual. This is not the time for someone to air a grievance.

Agree on The Desired Outcome

This step takes some research, as participants have to be aware of what treatment options there are. Contrary to what many people believe, the end goal of an intervention is not always an inpatient treatment program. What you’re asking of the person depends entirely on what their circumstances are. For instance, if your loved one’s symptoms have worsened as a result of them stopping their medication, all you might want is for them to start taking their meds again (this should always involve a conversation between your loved one and their doctor). On the other hand, if your loved one has developed new anxiety symptoms as a result of a recent trauma, the goal may be for them to enter a therapy program.

Make It Easy for Your Loved One to Accept The Help Being Offered

Many people with mental illnesses do not have the capacity to seek help themselves. It is not enough simply to get your loved one to agree that they should see a doctor or therapist, or go into a treatment program. A program space should already be reserved; a doctor’s appointment should already be scheduled; arrangements should already be in place to help your loved one with childcare or household responsibilities so they can go to appointments or enter a treatment program. If you are aiming for an inpatient program, your loved one needs to know that they can go away for a while and know that everything is already taken care of.

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Write a Script and Stick to It

Each participant should write a speech in which they describe how the person’s mental health challenges have been affecting them. You can talk about how your relationship with your loved one has been impacted, how your family or home responsibilities have been neglected, or how your own wellbeing has been affected. Describe what you are hoping your loved one will do, and talk about what you are prepared to do to make it possible for them to do it. You will also need to tell your loved one what will happen if they do not get the help they need. What boundaries will you put in place and how will you enforce them? What will your relationship with the person look like if they refuse treatment?

Follow Up – Regardless of The Outcome

If your loved one accepts the help being offered, set the plan in motion to make that help available to them. This could mean driving them to a treatment centre or going with them to a doctor. If they do not accept the help, start making the changes you need to make in order to put boundaries in place.

regardless of the outcome

Getting Started with Intervention Planning

At Intervention Rehab, our goal is to help people with mental health challenges along with their families. If someone you love is struggling, we can help you show them why they should get the help they need. Not only will we help you plan and execute a mental health intervention for your loved one, we will connect you with a treatment program that is right for them. Contact us for more information.

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