Supporting a Mental Health Patient Who Doesn’t Want Help

One in four individuals will battle a mental disorder in their lifetime. This is according to a 2001 WHO report. Some of these patients could be your friends or close relatives. Watching a loved one suffer from a mental illness is heartbreaking. It’s even worse when the patient is unaware of their condition or adamant about seeking help. If left untreated, mental disorders may affect physical health and increase the risk of accidents and suicide. Here’s how to care for a loved one who rejects mental health treatment.

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Research Their Condition and Reasons why they are a Patient Who Doesn’t Want Help

It’s difficult to understand the severity of your relative’s symptoms if you don’t educate yourself. For instance, you may dismiss an anxiety patient’s fatigue as laziness. By studying your loved one’s condition, you know how to support them when the situation gets out of control.

Assuming your friend starts sweating when nervous, you can pick their kids from school to give them time to recover. Understanding your loved one’s condition also helps you make treatment arrangements. For example, you can find the right therapist and insurance plan for their illness.

Although you can find valuable mental health information on the internet, don’t believe everything you read. Some resources may be inaccurate and cause you unnecessary panic. What’s more, ensure the information is up-to-date. With regular medical discoveries, you want to analyze your loved one’s condition according to the most recent studies.


Empathetic listening is necessary for families nursing a mental health patient. Instead of feeling sorry for your loved one, empathy puts you into your loved one’s situation, so you concentrate on not only their spoken words but also the message.

The first step of active listening is establishing rapport. You can show interest by eliminating distractions. For example, don’t respond to emails or text messages mid-conversation. Again, desist from interrupting the speaker. Even if you genuinely want to help, wait until the speaker finishes their story or asks for advice before offering suggestions.

Maintain calmness while at it. Angry responses could sabotage your relationship and push the patient into solitude. Make sure to sit next to the patient and maintain eye contact during the conversation. But don’t stare at them too much. Excessive eye contact could come off as aggressive and create discomfort.

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Recognize Your Limits

It’s tempting to take charge of your loved one’s treatment. However, the patient will recover faster when they feel in control of their treatment. For example, you can let your relative take the bus to the next doctor’s appointment instead of driving them every time. You could also teach them how to prepare healthy meals instead of cooking all the food yourself. After listening to their struggles, ask the patient what kind of support they need from you.

Instead of forcing them to seek help, express your concern for your loved one’s wellbeing by highlighting changes in behavior. For instance, you can say your relative seems stressed out lately, backing your statement with facts such as lack of appetite. If they don’t want to see a therapist, suggest a general practitioner for a start. Likewise, understand you cannot solve all your loved one’s problems. You may need the help of friends and other family members.

Most importantly, avoid assigning a timeframe to the patient’s recovery. Everyone has a different recovery journey. The best option is celebrating your loved one’s progress and encouraging them throughout every stage of treatment.

Don’t Neglect Yourself

Your wellbeing is on the line when you assume the role of a mental health caregiver. You cannot support the one you love if you don’t meet your needs first. Besides exercise, you can look after yourself by eating healthy and visiting friends and relatives. You can also consider joining caregiver support groups. Are you passionate about mental health? Drop by every week for a new post.