(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

BC Ambulance Crews prepare to evacuate a sick Greenwood boy by helicopter on Friday, Feb. 26. Photo: Submitted
Greenwood boy taken to hospital by BC Ambulance helicopter

Greenwood volunteer firefighters helped prepare the chopper’s landing

Sylvain Fabi, Canada’s chief negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty, joined a number of government and Indigenous government stakeholders for a virtual town hall on Feb. 24, 2021, to update the state of the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. Trevor Crawley photo/Zoom screenshot
Indigenous input key to Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Ecosystem function included in negotiations along with flood management and power generation priorities

Midway RCMP are continuing to investigate a recent burglary near Westbridge, B.C. File photo
Mounties looking for suspect in Boundary burglary

Investigators believe the suspect was driving a Jeep Liberty with a busted side mirror

Lawyers for three Grand Forks Fire/Rescue members denied any wrongdoing against former firefighter Leslie Cleverly, who in January filed a B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit against the defendants as well as their former Fire Chief and the City of Grand Forks. File photo
Grand Forks firefighters respond to former colleague’s lawsuit alleging conspiracy

The Supreme Court in Kelowna has not fixed a date for trial

Thursday, Feb. 4: RDKB Chief Engineer Darryl Funk hoists a banner commemorating last year’s championship season by the Bantam House Bruins. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Bantam Bruins honoured at hair-raising banner ceremony at Grand Forks’ Jack Goddard Arena

Asst. coach Mike Tollis said he reluctantly gave in to the team’s victory wish that he cut his pony tale

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

Most Read