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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    I think my mother is suffering from anxiety. How do I get her to a GP?

    My father passed away 4 years ago and her depression and anxiety is getting a lot worse to the point where I am having trouble caring for her. She has mentioned self-harm and just beign fed up. Are there specific services in Tamworth NSW other than a GP which can offer discrete services that will not embarrass her? She is 64.
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  • Damien Haines

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Damien Haines is a registered Clinical Psychologist who brings a warm and empathetic approach to therapy. He emphasises engagement in the world and encourages clients … View Profile

    Hi

    It can be really difficult to encourage loved ones to access services that may be of benefit to them, I often encounter this with carers - and not just around mental health issues.  I did some basic research and have found a few numbers that may be at least a starting place for you.

    The Tamworth Baese Hospital has three mental health units that I can work out. One is an inpatient facility (Banksia) the second is more community based, and the third is definitely community based. Unless things get serious and you are really concerned for you mothers safety (then call an ambulance or take her to hospital ASAP) I'd make contact with either or both of the community based services. I would call them on (02) 6767 8610 or (02) 6767 7910.

    Ask them for advice.

    My advice is twofold. You cannot make her see anyone. No matter your level of concern legally you cannot make anyone seek treatment until they become a danger to themselves or others. Additionally, even if you have coaxed her to a GP or psychologist etc if it is against her will she will not engage in any treatment offered and so little would change for her, but it would be likely to be frustrating or even exacerberating for yourself and other loved ones.

    I would talk to her about your concerns for her well being. Be specific about what you have noticed regarding her deterioration, try to avoid general statements - she will be easily able to fob them off. Also be emotional - I don't mean burst into tears or start screaming, but let that concern flow through when you speak otherwise you can seem disingenuous. for example: “Mum you can't even look after yourself anymore and we always fight I can't take it anymore. You need to go see someone.” This is clearly a poor approach, as it is trying to make the person go somewhere. It also sounds like they are being punished. Alternatively, “Mum I've noticed that you are having more trouble sleeping and seem much more jumpy than normal. I'm quite worried. I worry that if things don't change for you I'll lose my mum. Can we talk about seeing someone to give you a hand?” or even “Mum, I keep asking you to see someone to help you with your anxiety (I'd be more specific). When you don't take my concerns seriously/ignore me etc, I get really frustrated because I feel like I'm losing my mum. Can we please go and see someone?” These are just example of helping people to take repsonsibility for their own actions rather than forcing them too.

    The key points here are be honest, specific and emotional. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements I Feel rather than you make me feel etc.

    The other piece of advice is to find a list of services your mum could access if she wants to. Include her GP, psychologists (see http://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist), and community programmes (ie group meetings).

    I wish you well and look forward to hearing how things have progressed

  • Michael

    HealthShare Member

    Thank you very much. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to post this information. I will try your suggestions and already feel like I am better equipped to help her.

    Thanks again.

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