When someone you care about refuses mental health treatment, it can be a difficult and frustrating situation. It's important to remember that you can't force someone to get help, but there are steps you can take to support them and encourage them to seek treatment. First, it's important to listen to and validate your feelings. Even if your relationship with this person is strained, it's important to hear them out and understand why they are refusing treatment.
Resist the urge to fix or give advice, and instead focus on providing support. In 1967, the Lanterman—Petris—Short Act was passed in California, which aimed to stop the “inappropriate, indefinite, and involuntary engagement” of people with mental health disorders. This act was a major step forward in protecting the rights of those with mental health issues. The MHA Screening is an educational program designed to help inform people about the options they have to get help for mental health problems.
It's important to provide support, listen, reason with your loved one, present a treatment plan, and if necessary, consider organizing an intervention with the help of a mental health professional. DJ Jaffe, founder of the Mental Illness Policy Org think tank and advocate for the seriously mentally ill, argues that brain imaging data shows that the brain of a person with schizophrenia works differently compared to a neurotypical brain. This is an important factor in informing the treatment plan. When someone continues to refuse treatment, when their mental health problems are causing serious problems, or if they can't see or admit that they have a mental illness, it may be necessary to take more drastic measures.
Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive treatment for people suffering from mental health disorders and co-occurring substance use disorders. In Stanislaus County, California, the Board of Supervisors took action in response to a growing population of homeless people suffering from serious mental illnesses and mass shootings related (with or without reason) to mental illness. In this case, the individual in question was described as “paranoid and lonely” by neighbors and had intermittently received mental health services in the county but had rejected attempts by his family and social workers to hospitalize him. Ultimately, it's important to remember that you can't force someone into treatment if they don't want it. However, by providing support and listening to their concerns, you can help them understand why treatment is necessary and encourage them to seek help.