How do you deal with a mentally unstable friend or relative who doesn't recognize their state?
If this person doesn't recognize their delusions and behaviors are potentially going to cause them to harm themselves what can you do? They aren't bad enough to be committed involuntarily, but they are in a bad enough state that they desperately need help before they end up homeless or hurt.
Sadly there isn't much you can do.
Whatever you do be very careful that they don't end up hurting you or putting you in a bad or dangerous situation. It can and does happen often!
Perhaps the biggest hurtle to helping those with problems is that you can't do anything until they recognize and accept that they have a problem that needs professional help. The second is often the cost of good professional help.
But you as a friend or even a family member have no leverage o help them and no way to force them to seek help. All you can do is be as supportive as you can without endangering yourself.
I would strongly advise against things like taking them into your home. The mentally unstable are also very unpredictable and can cause great harm to you and yours. They might seem totally harmless but you are not a professional and don't have the knowledge about their potential to cause harm.
Unfortunately there isn't much you can do except try to protect yourself and educate yourself on how to cope and better understand the actions of this person. Nobody can help someone who just doesn't want to be helped. Just observe from a safe distance so you can be there to assist if this ever becomes an option. But unfortunately chances are any offers of help will be rebuffed and may also lead you into hot water with other family members who may also be in complete denial of the problem.
Dear ChristinS, as someone who works with mentally ill patients and had a relative who was seriously mentally ill, I understand and sympathize with your predicament. You say the person is "in a bad enough state that they desperately need help before they end up homeless or hurt." I think that's bad enough. You can't just look on from the sidelines and do nothing. Many of the patients who come to us look and act normal to the average person, but they are really sick. If the person is a friend or relative, I suggest you have a talk with this person. Tell him/her what you have noticed and encourage this person to seek professional help. You may even offer to accompany them. If they won't listen to you, then depending on where you live, you may have to use community resources to get that person the help they need. But please don't wait. Many people do end up hurting themselves and/or others because people were too afraid to do something.
I really wish I knew the answer to this one ChristinS. I have a family member who is in a similar state but is in denial. That said, in the UK there don't seem to be the resources to deal with someone who isn't actually 'bad' enough to be sectioned. My relative was taken to hospital by a friend because they were worried about him ranting and raving and being completely paranoid with delusions that he was being spied upon and that his clothing was bugged. The crisis team were called but because he didn't come from that area they refused to help and sent him on his way telling him to return to the town where he was registered with a GP. Homeless and psychotic with no money to return to his town and a terrible fear of returning - he had left there because he thought people were conspiring against him and trying to kill him. Luckily someone did take pity on him and gave him somewhere to stay but the problem still exists as he thinks he is better now and doesn't need any professional help. I wish I could have him here because it is only a matter of time before he becomes homeless again; unfortunately though he can turn violent when he feels threatened and paranoia kicks in. So he will be fine as he is. Until the next time.....
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