Everything You Need to Know About Admitting a Family Member For Mental Health Assistance

Getting someone you love the help they need may be the right step to take, but it’s not always the easiest one. Continue reading to learn more about admitting a family member or loved one into a mental health program or facility.

Mental Distress Symptoms

There are times when admitting a family member or loved one into a mental health treatment program is imperative, but it can be difficult to know when to admit someone. Every person is unique and therefore the signs they show when in distress will vary.

Below, we’ve provided a list of common mental distress symptoms families and friends can look out for if they are concerned about an individual’s mental state.

Self-Harming Behaviors

One of the main signs of mental distress is participating in acts of self-injury. Sometimes, noticing these behaviors can be difficult because individuals often keep self-harming behaviors a secret.

It’s important to remember that these behaviors are different from suicidal attempts. Self-harm is a deliberate non-suicidal act of harming your body. Self-harm can be inflicted once or twice but also can turn into a regular occurrence.

Suicidal Thoughts or Behaviors

If a loved one has opened up about thoughts of suicide or is displaying risky behaviors that could potentially end in suicide, it’s crucial to get them to help as soon as possible.

Lack of Self-Care

Someone who is experiencing mental distress will often fall into the practice of neglecting themselves. This could be not eating, refusing to take medications, skipping work or school, increasing the amount of sleep, or neglecting to practice personal hygiene.

If there is a pattern of these behaviors occurring for at least 1-2 weeks, this is most likely an indication that the individual is struggling with their mental health.

Psychotic Episodes

A psychotic episode is a period in which an individual experiences psychotic symptoms and loses touch with reality.

During this time they may have trouble distinguishing the difference between what is real and imaginary or experience extreme paranoia about whether someone is trying to harm them. An individual can experience a few psychotic episodes or one episode that lasts over a few days or weeks.

Trouble Sleeping

Another main sign of mental distress is insomnia or irregular sleeping patterns. Studies have shown that chronic sleep problems are common in individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, bipolar, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Mood Swings

Often, when an individual is struggling with a mental health condition, those around them will notice drastic mood changes. This could be constant changes such as irritability, and isolation.

Conversely, showing a lack of emotion and not changing their moods enough, is also a common mental distress symptom.

Excessive and Irrational Fear

Those struggling with panic attacks, anxiety, fear, or worry to the point that they can’t function are most likely in need of mental health assistance.

Stress is a normal part of life, however, when these feelings become debilitating they can negatively affect an individual’s mental health and well-being.

Physical Signs of Stress

People may be aware of mental or emotional signs of stress, however, there are also physical signs to look out for.

When someone is struggling mentally, they may show it through their bodies. For example, muscle tension, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, fatigue, or worsening chronic medical conditions.

Young adult woman helping young man who is upset.

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Inpatient Hospitalization

If a family member or loved one is exhibiting mental distress symptoms like the ones listed above, it should become a priority to get them the help they need to feel better.

There can be many factors that contribute to admitting a family member or loved one to a mental health treatment program. It can be a difficult and painful experience watching a loved one struggling with mental health distress symptoms.

Below, we have broken down the 2 main ways for an individual to be admitted into an inpatient psychiatric facility.

Voluntary Inpatient Hospitalization

Most treatment for mental health treatment is done voluntarily. This means that individuals experiencing a mental health crisis decide to admit themselves into an inpatient mental health program.

The most important aspect of entering voluntary inpatient hospitalization is the commitment to oneself as well as a commitment to the team, trusting their clinical judgment, and working towards safe discharge planning.

Involuntary Inpatient Hospitalization

An involuntary psychiatric hold is a legal process that allows others to intervene to keep someone safe during an acute mental health crisis or having a psychiatric emergency. In Pennsylvania, this commitment is also called a 302.

The individual being committed will be held in a psychiatric or healthcare facility until a licensed mental health professional determines that the person no longer presents as a danger to themselves or others.

When the mental health professional is evaluating the individual, they will be looking for the following things:

  • Whether the person has a mental health condition (either an established condition or a temporary condition induced by stress).
  • Whether that mental health condition puts the individual at risk of harming themselves or others.

Mother comforting her daughter.

FAQs About Admitting a Family Member

Below, we’ve provided answers to some common questions people may have about admitting a family member to an inpatient mental health facility.

What can I do to help?

First and foremost, it’s important to learn about common mental health conditions that could be affecting the individual. Mental health issues are more common than most people think, and the best way to get someone the help they need is to have all the information.

We recommend staying educated by finding resources and/or contacting mental health professionals who can answer any questions you may have.

It is also important to remember that your mental health and well-being matter too. It can be overwhelming when navigating mental health issues, but you can’t help someone you love if your mental state begins to deteriorate as well. Try incorporating self-care practices into your daily routine.

How should I talk to a loved one who is struggling?

Supporting someone you love becomes increasingly difficult if they do not want the help they need. If this is the case, there are a few things to remember.

  • Listen and validate their feelings by asking questions and making an effort to understand their situation.
  • If they didn’t ask for your help, show your support without overwhelming them with your opinions and trying to fix the situation.
  • Explore treatment options together so they don’t feel alienated or as if the decision is out of their control.

How do I prepare for a crisis?

It can be hard to predict a mental health crisis before it happens, but if you notice a friend or family member is beginning to show signs of mental distress, there are things you can do to be proactive.

  • Know where the nearest police department, hospital, or mental health facility is located.
  • Have emergency crisis lines and resources on hand in case you need support.

Note: If anyone is having suicidal thoughts, they should get help immediately. Contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, or call Malvern Behavioral Health (610-480-8919). We have staff available 24/7 to assist someone feeling depressed or having unsafe thoughts.

  • Talk to family members and friends about the situation so they also know to keep an eye on the individual struggling.
  • Inform the individual’s primary healthcare provider and mental health professional if they already have one.

Finally, remember that communication is key. Try to establish a safe environment where an individual feels comfortable coming to you to speak about how they are feeling and ask for help if they need it.

Young adult getting assessed by a mental health professional.

If you have a loved one who is struggling, contact us today to see how we can help them find the relief they deserve.