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Mental Health Services and a Loved One: When to Make the Call

When a family member or friend has mental illness, life can be filled with anxiety and a feeling of helplessness. Is he taking his medication? Is she being honest about her condition? Is his behavior putting him at risk?

Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio’s mental health division can bring peace of mind by bringing in-home care to people with severe mental illness. The mental health team includes nurses, therapists, psychiatrists and social workers.

A candidate for mental health homecare must have a primary diagnosis of severe mental illness that prohibits him from leaving home and seeking help independently. Those conditions can range from cognitive disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, to psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia.

With a doctor’s order, VNA of Ohio’s mental-health team can get involved and bridge the gap between doctor and patient. Usually, VNA of Ohio becomes involved following a hospitalization.

But Amy Silbaugh, manager of clinical development for VNA of Ohio, said families can initiate the process of bringing in homecare by calling VNA of Ohio directly. A nurse then will discuss the situation and guide through the options for help. If appropriate, the nurse will contact the client’s doctor for an order.

“Anyone can call VNA of Ohio and request services,” she said. “It is very important for them to know the signs and symptoms for what someone who needs help may look like.”

Those signs include:

  • Frequent hospitalizations
  • A gradual decline in the person’s well-being
  • Voicing thoughts of hurting themselves and others
  • Failing to take medications and/or missing doctor’s appointments
  • Exhibiting aberrant behavior that cannot be controlled
  • No sleeping or eating
  • Other changes in habits

Through their home visits, VNA of Ohio staff can identify whether the client is keeping up with his medications and ensure that the doctor is getting an accurate report about how the patient is faring.

That involvement can be a relief to those who fear that their loved one may be concealing his condition or exacerbating it by not taking his medication or following through with doctor’s appointments.

Silbaugh said the main focus of the mental health homecare nurses’ visits is education.

“A lot of times the meetings are for the family as much as the client,” she said. “It’s helping them to understand the disease and the progress. There is no cure for mental illness. We try to help the client learn, ‘How to make you the best you’.”

Call VNA of Ohio Today

Learn more about VNA of Ohio mental health services, or call us today at 1-877-698-6264.