The Importance of Early Intervention when you have a Loved One with a Mental Illness
Typically, individuals with mental illnesses and other co-occurring disorders display reluctance when seeking professional help for their illnesses, many times due to the negative stigmas associated with having a mental illness. Stigmas lead to feelings of shame and denial. At that point, it becomes critical for friends and family members to intervene before their loved one’s condition spirals out of control and worsens. When psychiatric disorders are left untreated, potential outcomes include long-term unemployment, quitting school, incarceration, suicide or even homelessness. Individuals with debilitating psychiatric disorders have a difficult time seeking treatment in a timely manner.
As a friend or family member, the first step should always be to effectively identify the symptoms associated with some of the most common mental illnesses, which are extensive. These symptoms will typically appear before the age of 24; a time-period in which the brain is developing and maturing. Below are a few of the symptoms that will most likely be present if your loved one has a mental illness.
- Has become withdrawn from friends and activities they used to enjoy
- Displays changes in sleeping patterns; will either sleep less or sleep more than usual
- Displays changes in eating habits
- Becomes increasingly irritable or confrontational
- Has a difficult time concentrating or completing tasks
- Begins using drugs or alcohol
- Has difficulty understanding and relating to others
- Has had thoughts of suicide
- Hallucinates or has episodes of paranoia
The next step as a friend or family member is to consult with a psychiatrist, psychologist or behavioral therapist to get a formal diagnosis for your loved one. Your local NAMI chapters can also act as an excellent guide during this stage. Interventions are conducted most often in cases in which a mental illness is secondary to a drug or alcohol addiction. Interventions become necessary when individuals struggling with addiction feel there is no problem and are resistant to professional treatment for their addiction.
When the psychiatric disorder is the primary diagnosis, there are several options for intervening. One option is to contact a Certified ARISE Interventionist (CAI), which not only helps your loved one enroll into the ideal treatment program but ARISE also offers an extensive continuing care program. The continuing care includes case management, and the interventionist will work in unison with the treatment facility’s recommendations for a minimum of 6-12 months following treatment. ARISE claims an 81% success rate of intervening and getting clients into treatment within a three-week period and a 96% success rate within six months. ARISE also claims that 61% of their clients reach recovery within one calendar year.
The intervention process typically requires seven steps, and they include the following.
- Initial meeting with an interventionist
- Interventionist will propose a strategy to friends and family members
- The site of the intervention is selected
- Friends and family members will write down things they want to say to the individual that needs treatment
- Friends and family members will rehearse the intervention with the interventionist
- The interventionist arranges for their client to enter treatment
- Aftercare begins
Much of the treatment and recovery of mental illnesses in the United States only focuses on the later stages of mental illnesses and intervention is only explored when the illness has reached a critical stage. The National Institute of Mental Health recently launched a project called RAISE aimed at reducing the likelihood of long-term disability of people with Schizophrenia. RAISE determined that it’s ideal for individuals with Schizophrenia to receive medication and psychotherapy as close to the onset of their first episode of psychosis as possible. The average duration of the time the first episode of psychosis took place and the time the individual received treatment was nearly 18 months.
If yourself or a loved one are ready to take the life-changing step towards recovery, please call the Pasadena Villa admissions office at 877-845-5235 or fill out our contact form. Pasadena Villa specializes in social integration and helping our clients achieve greater levels of independence while also improving their social skills. Psychiatric disorders seen most often at Pasadena Villa include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder and co-occurring addiction. We currently offer treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Raleigh, North Carolina.