(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

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
Harrison woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Fraser Canyon Hospital, located at 1275 7th Avenue in Hope, is one of two local COVID-19 vaccination sites. Seniors over the age of 90 and First Nations elders and seniors are the first people eligible for vaccines; booking began on Monday, March 8, and administration begins on March 15. (Photo/Adam Louis)
ICYMI: Vaccine booking in Hope has begun

Seniors aged 90 and up, First Nations elders to be vaccinated next week

Once again Fraser East is among the health service delivery areas with the highest rate of COVID-19 transmission in the province. (Datawrapper)
Fraser East sees third highest rate of COVID-19 cases in B.C.

The region is seeing a sustained increase in new COVID-19 cases

Once a star player with the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team, Kayli Sartori is moving into a new role coaching the next generation of Cascades. (UFV photo)
Chilliwack’s Kayli Sartori goes from court to coach with UFV basketball Cascades

Sartori is taking a new path as part of the U-Sports female basketball apprentice coaching program

The Kimber family of Boston Bar lost their home in a fire. Blaine Kimber’s daughter created a fundraiser to help rebuild the home with the goal of $100,000. (Screenshot/GoFundMe)
Fundraiser created for Boston Bar family that lost everything in weekend fire

Witnesses say the Kimber family escaped the fire without injury, but their home is a total loss

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Some of the hundreds of pounds of trash removed by divers last month from Abbotsford’s Walmsley Lake.(Henry Wang photo)
VIDEO: Divers remove 462 pounds of trash from Abbotsford lake

Walmsley Lake dive uncovers several tires, hundreds of drink containers and a tent

Trent Miner is returning to the Vancouver Giants, the team announced. He has been released by the Colorado Eagles of the AHL.(Rik Fedyck/Vancouver Giants)
Trent Miner returns to play goal for Vancouver Giants

Netminder was part of epic 11-game winning-streak by Langley-based team

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complains about that condo

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

Most Read