Individual choice and potential for harm are in the balance
How to get a person to consult a psychiatrist
- If the problem is with a child talk it over with the person who can veto the consultation (your spouse, your mother-in-law). The child will exploit any lack of consensus.
- Put across the consultation as a confidential discussion with a neutral person.
- Focus on the physical complaints - sleeplessness, loss of appetite, fatigue. Fix a consultation for these "stress related problems".
- Seek help from a person they trust. This may be an uncle, a grandparent or daughter-in-law who may not be aware of the problem but would be willing to intervene for the benefit of their loved one.
- Get the family physician to refer. Physicians may prefer not to go in for a discussion on the need for psychiatric referral. Letting the physician know in advance will facilitate referral.
- Use coercion. If the person is still refusing to consider an evaluation threaten withdrawal of some support for which they are dependent on you (you should be prepared to follow through on this). Play on their insecurities (eg. to divulge information to a colleague or boss).
- If there is any kind of self-harm be firm and seek an urgent consultation
- In case of escalations with violence and agitation seek admission to a mental health centre. There are provisions for this under the Mental Health Act.
Remember, untreated psychiatric illness will increase stigma