(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

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Okanagan high school girls volleyball players Georgia MacLean of Lake Country’s George Elliot Secondary (from left), Olivia Pederson of Vernon Christian School, Kassidy Schaper-Kotter of Vernon Secondary and Makenna Lane from W.L. Seaton Secondary have signed to play college volleyball with Abbotsford’s Columbia Bible College. (File photos)
Fraser Valley college inks quartet of Okanagan recruits

Columbia Bible College Bearcats in Abbotsford sign four players to women’s volleyball squad

Items seized by Chilliwack RCMP and Abbotsford Police during a Feb. 23 traffic stop. (RCMP photo)
Police from Chilliwack and Abbotsford seize drugs in traffic stop

Chilliwack RCMP worked with the Abbotsford PD to seize four kilograms of suspected fentanyl

(Black Press file photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for man who tried to grab boy near Robertson elementary school

A man in a parked minivan reached out the driver side window as a young boy passed by

Hope’s station house, moved from its original location along the railroad to 111 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Photo: Surrey RCMP
Surrey RCMP arrests two boys, age 16, during dial-a-dope investigation in Whalley

Sergeant Elenore Sturko said one boy is ‘alleged to have been in possession of a loaded handgun at the time of his arrest’

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

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

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

Emergency crews are on scene at Walnut Grove Secondary School after a report of a bomb threat at Walnut Grove Secondary School on March 3, 2021. The school was safely evacuated. (Shane MacKichan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
UPDATE: Bomb threat forces evacuation of Langley high school

Police asked the public to avoid 88th Avenue and Walnut Grove Drive

Most Read