Mental Health Interventions: Preparation & Safety Considerations
The hardest thing to see is an object that exists only in the mind of someone else.
If you have ever lived or worked with someone suffering from severe symptoms of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, or any combination thereof, you can probably relate.
No matter how hard you may have tried to cheer them up, or calm them down, most of your heart-felt rational support seemed to always end up splattered somewhere on the side of a proverbial brick wall.
So rather than trying to break down the seemingly impenetrable walls of mental illness all alone, consider breaking right through them with a carefully planned, comprehensive, compassionate, and professional Mental Health Intervention.
Safety First! ... Be Prepared
When it comes to actually planning a successful mental health intervention, safety is by far the most important factor to consider.
Before going any further into the planning process, if you feel that the individual is likely to cause serious bodily harm to self or others in the near future as evidenced by recent behaviors, do not pass go, and dial 911 for immediate assistance!
Involuntary Commitment Order - Don't Rely On It
Be prepared to have a well-educated or duty-driven paramedic or police officer tell you, “I’m sorry there’s nothing we can do right now,” even after you have presented your best case and all of the evidence.
It is usually not because they do not 'get it,' or recognize the potential risk - it is often because as much as they may want to initiate an involuntary commitment order such as a 5150 in California, a Baker Act in Florida, or a 302 in Pennsylvania, the paramedic or law enforcement officer can only do so within the terms and conditions outlined in their applicable and respective state statutes. In other words, they are not going to break the rules, question the system, and thereby potentially subject themselves to reprimand for going above, beyond, and then outside the call of duty.
After Emergency Services Have Left
Nevertheless, once the paramedics and police have left the scene after making their field assessment, the individual who may have appeared to have been relatively rational, cooperative, and coherent, could end up acting out again once the coast appears to be clear. Unfortunately, this time the symptoms could end up being much more intense and volatile, fuelled by pent up anxiety, anger, and shame.
Get Professional Intervention Help
If you are ready to move forward with a mental health intervention for a loved one suffering with symptoms of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, or any combination thereof, consult with a trained mental health intervention specialist.
An Intervention Counselor's Perspective
In my opinion, conducting an intervention is similar to performing major surgery. It is not that I could ever actually put my hands into an open chest cavity to unclog a blocked artery, but rather that in most cases I do feel that it is a matter of life and death, or at least a matter of being able to live a full and productive life, versus being trapped, stuck, and wasting potential while suffering alone in the deafening silence and despair of mental illness. Therefore, there really is no room for failure in my work!
Furthermore, once I begin to perform the intervention I have to follow a carefully planned protocol, one that has to be presented in, and supported with a unified approach. While at the same time, there also has to be series of well-designed contingency plans in place to address both expected and even unforeseen obstructions along the way.
To heighten the intensity of the process even more, a mental health intervention is usually time-sensitive, a race against the clock until the next crisis, hospitalization, or incarceration. There is no time to take a break once you get started. Therefore, I have to be prepared to keep working until the identified individual in crisis is safely in treatment, whether on a voluntary or involuntary basis.
If you have any questions regarding planning for a safe and successful comprehensive, compassionate, and professional mental health intervention, please feel free to reach out.
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