(Pixabay.com)

Let’s Talk Day: Why family support should be the heart of mental health treatment in B.C.

‘Research has shown when families are involved in a patient’s care they typically have greater success’

British Columbians – both patients and their loved ones – often say to Kathryn Embacher, “I wish I got help sooner.”

As senior director of B.C.’s only inpatient facility for concurrent disorders, Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction, the 41-year-old has seen patients receive care for nearly a decade.

The 41-year-old told Black Press Media many of them struggle coming to terms with needing professional help.

“It is as simple as saying they have a broken leg. If only they realized how common it is to have a mental illness – it’s every one-in-five people,” Embacher expressed.

According to the director, it’s not just patients who feel the sting of stigma surrounding mental illness, it’s their friends and families, too.

“People are afraid to tell their friends that a loved one of theirs has mental health issues.”

READ MORE: Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

First seeing a family member admitted into inpatient care can be disorienting. Patients from across the province, cities including Prince George and North Vancouver, receive specialized treatment at the 94-bed Burnaby facility.

“Families admit they don’t understand what 24/7 treatment will be like for their loved one,” Embacher said.

For this reason, the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction established a Partnerships In Care committee made up of dozens of patients’ family members. The group meets monthly to review the centre’s current care model and its policies, providing unique insight and recommendations for lasting change.

RELATED: B.C. centre at forefront of treating mental health and addiction, together

“Research has shown when families are involved in a patient’s care they typically have greater success in treatment – it provides better results,” Embacher said.

The committee designed a handbook for families of those admitted, including information on where to park, who to call, and how to visit their loved on.

Families have also proven helpful for when mental health professionals are creating a treatment plan.

“Mothers and fathers will remember which medications have worked and recognize symptoms and patterns, more so than many medical records,” Embacher said.

READ MORE: Abbotsford youth launches mental health awareness page

The treatment plan isn’t solely prescriptive, but also includes activities and classes. This involves patient participation so the recovery centre can learn about the patient in ways not found in medical records.

“One of our patients used to be a pianist. So they wanted to include that into the program with the help of a therapist.”

It’s these “old ways of living” lost while struggling through a mental health disorder that can aid in recovery.

“After all, they know themselves better than we do.”

Jan. 28 marks Bell Let’s Talk – a day dedicated to removing the stigma around mental health while raising funds for services across the country.



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Addictions treatmentmental health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shannon Davis, manager at Sidney’s Star Cinema, holds up the largest available bag of popcorn available for sale at the theatre. It also also sells four smaller sizes in generating revenue following its closure last fall because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney theatre fills bottom line with popcorn sales

Theatre applying to return to doing our household-only private rentals

Landis Carmichael is the Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as the Emergency Services Award winner. (Photo courtesy Landis Carmichael)
29-year-old firefighter has spent almost half his life with Langford department

Landis Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Emergency Services Award

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday morning due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay ferry sailing cancelled due to high winds, sea state

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

Don Devenney is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Community Builder of the year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore volunteer’s efforts an exercise in adventurous pursuits

Don Devenney is the 2021 recipient of the Community Builder Award

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Most Read