A psychiatric involuntary commitment can be a very scary time for the loved ones of the person being committed. Whether you’re the person who made the call to initiate the commitment process or you’re providing support for the person in treatment, it can be hard to know how to feel.
When a person who is struggling with a mental health issue becomes a risk to others around them or can no longer care for themselves, a psychiatric involuntary commitment may be the only option. In particular, those experiencing psychosis may have intrusive thoughts that encourage them to harm themselves or others.
In West Virginia, mental health hygiene officers, including law enforcement, help the process play out as the person at risk is placed in a 24-hour hold and given a hearing by a Mental Health Commissioner. If the Mental Health Commissioner decides there is probable cause for commitment, the at-risk person is placed in a mental health facility and must then have a psychiatric evaluation by a physician. How long the at-risk person receives in-patient treatment depends on how much care is needed and progress made towards a more stable outcome.
For the family or friends of the person who has been committed, it’s important to realize that the hospitalization is meant to help and protect the person. If you were the one who made the call, you may feel guilty or hurt by what can feel to the at-risk person like a betrayal, but it’s truly an act of tough love.
If the person in treatment can have visitors, make a point to go and see them. If distance or time doesn’t permit an in-person visit, set up a time for a phone call or video chat. What’s important for your loved one is for you to show a welcoming and accepting attitude.
Once your loved one is released, you can also show support for them by spending time together and reminding them they can talk to you anytime. Loved ones should also make an effort to keep the at-risk person accountable, especially if substance abuse is an issue. Finally, don’t be afraid to take advantage of the resources around you like those available at help304.com. If the experience of a loved one’s involuntary commitment has left you feeling anxious or depressed, remember that you also might benefit from some therapy.
Above all, it’s important to remember that mental health is as important as the health of any other part of the human body. With proper treatment, your loved one will be back on the road to wellness before you know it.