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What to do when your loved one needs help

What to do when your loved one needs help


Have you ever been in a situation where you are concerned that someone you know may seriously harm themselves, or harm others? Dr. Gurdeep Grewal, Lecturer in Psychiatry at the Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine, gave recommendations on how to deal with such a situation in his column in HealthToday.

Dr. Gurdeep often consults for a family member or a parent who is concerned with their child’s mental health condition. So often, in fact, that it is a weekly occurrence. From their explanation, the affected individual may have been struggling with depression, anxiety or other issues, for months. The situation may have escalated to the point where the patient is no longer communicating with their family, talks about hearing voices, mumbles to themselves, behaves aggressively and threatens violence. They may also resist treatment.

According to Dr. Gurdeep, “Many families feel lost and unsure of what to do or where to get help. Under the Mental Health Act 2001, a person can be detained against his will for the purpose of treatment of his mental illness. When an individual is deemed a danger to self, others or property, the law allows for forced detention, assessment and treatment.”

So what should you do if you are in this situation? First, try to bring the patient to the hospital yourself, or get help from friends and relatives. Be careful, and only do this if the patient is not violent. Otherwise, if you are worried about your safety, get help from the police. File a Form P57 at the station, which permits the police to bring the patient to the hospital for assessment and treatment.
Unfortunately, many are reluctant to take this advise for fear that the neighbours will see the patient being escorted out by the police. “No, I don’t want to do that. What will my neighbours say?” is something heard many times by Dr. Gurdeep.

Indeed, the stigma attached to mental illness is still strong in our society. “Families deprive their mentally ill loved ones access to care simply because they are worried about what the neighbours will say. Mental illness is not a personal failure. Let’s end the stigma,” urges Dr. Gurdeep.

Dr. Gurdeep Grewal is a Consultant Psychiatrist and teaches at the Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine. This article is adapted from the March 2018 issue of HealthToday, where Dr. Gurdeep is a regular contributor.