How to Help a Spouse that Refuses to seek Mental Health Treatment
Due to the persistent negative stigmas associated with mental health problems, both men and women are often hesitant to seek the proper treatment for their condition(s). Men are much less likely than women to seek help for common psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Reasons to not seek treatment can include the societal expectation to be tough, stubbornness of admitting there is a disorder, lack of access to quality healthcare, the fear of medication side effects, or a lack of trust in medical professionals.
Marriages can be strained when one partner refuses to seek mental health treatment. When a spouse begins to display daily struggles with a mental health disorder, the first reaction is to help them improve their mental health. Not only can this approach end up creating codependency and enabling behaviors, but it can make them less likely to seek professional help for their condition.
If there is a concern about the decline of quality of your spouse’s life, the first approach should be to communicate with them. Identify the symptoms they have been displaying and the problems associated with their behavior (intimacy, finances, relationships with children). Secondly, ask them to attend at least one session with a psychiatrist or therapist to solidify a formal diagnosis. Offer to make the appointment with the treatment professional and attend the first meeting with them. Psychology Today and Good Therapy are excellent online resources for finding therapists and other mental health professionals in your area.
If your spouse is resistant to treatment, ask them why. It may be helpful to take note of their responses and privately call a treatment professional to discuss ways to overcome their excuses; treatment professionals will often be happy to consult with friends and family members ahead of time. If your spouse is also struggling with co-occurring drug and alcohol abuse, you can connect with an interventionist about scheduling an intervention. Interventions are a last resort to help convince loved ones that they need help, and most are successful. The most a loving spouse can do is educate yourself about the disorder, and be persistent in asking your spouse to seek treatment. It may take financial hardship or the loss of a close personal relationship before they become more open to the idea of mental health treatment, but the day will eventually come.
There are several actions that should not be taken when dealing with a spouse with complicated mental health issues. For starters, do not force them into social situations; many people retreat from their social life when struggling with their mental health. They will also exhibit traits of low self-esteem and put themselves down; it is important to verbally disagree with such remarks. It’s also wise to not dismiss their feelings as just a “bad mood” or something they could easily snap out of. For additional advice, please check out an NAMI’s infographic on how to help your loved one when they’re struggling with a mental illness.
With the right treatment for your spouse, relationships can heal and return to their earlier form. Pasadena Villa is one of the premier mental health treatment centers in the United States thanks to its wide offering of integrative and behavioral therapies. We currently own and operate mental health treatment centers in Knoxville, Tennessee, Orlando, Florida, and Raleigh, North Carolina. To learn more about how we treat psychiatric disorders and other co-occurring disorders, please call our admissions office at 877-845-5235 or fill out a contact form. Pasadena Villa is an out of network treatment provider that submits to most major insurance plans; clients and their families can also pay privately.