Psychiatrists must include the family when treating mental health – Neville

Fine Gael TD for Limerick, Dan Neville, who is President of the Irish Association of Suicidology, has expressed his concern that many psychiatrists are excluding family members when treating those suffering from a mental illness. Deputy Neville is giving the opening address at the 15th Annual Conference of the Association today (Thursday).

“I am deeply concerned that many professionals are refusing to include family members in the recovery process of people suffering from mental illness, who may be in danger of taking their own lives. Too often I have encountered families who are extremely stressed due to the lack of information on the treatment regime.

“Patient confidentially is frequently quoted as the reason, but professionals must recognise that family involvement is key to the recovery process. There is often a reluctance to discuss the after-care needs of a patient once they have been discharged from hospital. This practice of excluding the family in the recovery programme has to change.

“It is well documented that suicide rates rise during times of economic recession. Job loss and uncertainty weigh heavily on one’s mental health, leading to an increase in depression, substance abuse and relationship breakdown.

“The effect of the suicide of a family member is profound. For parents, the loss of a child is a tragedy, while the loss of a parent has long term implications for a young person. As a society, we cannot ignore this issue. But professionals must also take an inclusive approach. Family members are key to identifying a sibling, spouse, parent or child in danger of loosing their life. The psychiatric profession should use this fact to the benefit of patients, rather than choosing to ignore it.”