(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

Just Posted

The Langley Centennial Museum is hoping the public can help identify people in this photo from the Sperling Church Sunday School. (Langley Township photo)
Did you attend Sperling Church Sunday School in Langley?

Local residents can help ID people in historic local photos and preserve Langley history

Higher sales of cannabis helped Canadian farmers come out in the green. (Black Press Media File)
Cannabis processing could start shop in North Langley

Company is the latest to work on industrial operations locally

Langley Quilters Guild helped honour two long-time members of the Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, including Pat Walker (left), with “beautiful quilts” to express appreciation for their years of service to the non-profit. Her quilt was presented by Nuala Adderley (right), the guild vice-president. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Giving everlasting thanks to devoted Langley volunteers

Quilts given to two women who donate more than 30+ years each to Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary

Nixon Mahovlic, 8, was inspired by kindness week at Fort Langley Elementary so he set out to collect bottles to raise money for a local family in need. (Steve Mahovlic/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
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

Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Most Read