Get information and advice - Sibling FAQs - How can we get help in a crisis?
Even though my brother has a diagnosis of schizophrenia and is well known by the local mental health agencies, we always struggle to get help when we see a crisis looming up. It often feels like we have to wait until it really goes wrong before anyone responds. Is there anything we can do?
Download our Getting help in a crisis factsheet for more information.
You probably know better than most when your brother is getting ill and perhaps when you or he are reaching crisis point. However, it is not always easy to get help.
There are several reasons for this. Some professionals will not accept information from you about your brother's health and ask that he come and talk to them themselves (which he might not be in a fit state to do - hence your concern).
This can often be the case with GPs and is a misunderstanding about the rules on confidentiality. Sometimes the professionals may want to assess the situation themselves. This can often take time and staff are not always immediately available. If a problem situation is recognised, sometimes there are not the services to deal with it, for instance, there is often a shortage of psychiatric beds in local hospitals.
The best advice if you are finding it difficult to access help is to try as many avenues as possible and to be persistent! The following ideas about where you may be able to get help for you and your brother might be useful.
What happens if I do not get the response I need?
Persistence is important in getting help. Try each of the suggestions for help, and in many instances you may need to try them several times.
If you are still denied help or the help you receive is inadequate you can threaten to make a formal complaint. All doctors, hospitals and mental health services have a complaints procedure.
If you require help in making a complaint, contact our advice and information service or a local mental health advocate. If there is no response to a request for an assessment from a nearest relative, it may be possible to threaten 'judicial review'. This would be taking the provider of the service (the assessment) to court to determine whether they have carried out their duties to assess your brother. You will probably need to get help from our advice and information service to do this.
If you are offered help but you find that the help is insufficient and you are still experiencing a crisis, it is important that you ask for help again. Take the time to note down why the help that has been offered is insufficient and what you want to happen.
Occasionally you may be given unhelpful advice from a professional who might refuse to help, arguing that the problems are behavioural or that no help is available until there is more of a crisis. It is important to seek help and support despite comments such as these. Carer advocates can be a helpful source of advice and support in getting the services you need for someone. Our advice and information service can put you in touch with a local advocate and /or offer you further advice.
It is often the case that the more knowledgeable you are about the rights your brother has the more powerfully you can argue for support on his behalf. There is a wealth of information on this website that can help you, or you can post a question on the RethinkTalk siblings forum to find what other people have done in similar situations. You might also like to get support for yourself by talking to other siblings in a support group or on the forum.
For more information please read our Getting help in a crisis factsheet
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Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays