Mental illness is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a health condition involving changes in emotion, thinking, or behavior. It is often marked by distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities. This may present as waning performance at work, worsening communication with others, difficulty paying attention in school, or a general inability to care for oneself. Mental illness can take many forms, from depression and anxiety to severe schizophrenia. Difficulty functioning is also on a spectrum: some people may only experience minor impairment, while others lose the ability to leave the house and fulfill obligations.
Who needs a mental health intervention?
If your loved one is exhibiting any of the above warning signs – especially if you suspect their ability to function is decreasing – it’s time to stage a mental health intervention. Like any disorder, mental illness should be treated the moment it is detected for best results. The longer you wait to address the issue, the more likely it is that the sufferer will experience long-term psychological damage.
What to expect during an intervention
Because of the complexity of mental illness, it is incredibly important that the intervention process is handled by a trained professional. It can be difficult to identify these disorders because many of them present overlapping symptoms – alternatively, substance abuse could mask telltale signs of a disorder. It’s also crucial for you to be aware that these particular interventions can be very emotionally charged. Your loved one may not believe that they have a problem, and may not have ever received a formal diagnosis. They also may have a previous treatment plan that they have chosen to ignore, and could believe that they know what’s best for their health (even though you see real issues in their day-to-day lives). This is why Intervention 911 recommends that mental health interventions take place under the supervision of a trained facilitator.