There is no doubt that the mental health system in North America is broken. Every day I read about some sort of tragedy that could have been prevented if someone would have just listened to concerned individuals, mainly parents.
I know firsthand that people who do well dealing with mental illness have the support of family members. When I was very ill in 1987, my parents were always there to help in my recovery. I was hospitalized six times; they would visit me in the hospital every day and bring me things to eat and stay with me. When I left the hospital, my parents allowed me to live with them. My dad drove me to my group therapy sessions, and filled in all of my paperwork. Basically, my parents were just there for me. I still remember sitting with my mother for hours on end, not saying. We just drank cup after cup of tea in silence while the time passed.
The mental health system needs to be open to dealing with family members who know more about a patient than anyone else. Parents just want to be involved in their loved one’s treatment, because they know their son or daughter and many they times can see a relapse coming on. They are also aware if their son or daughter has stopped taking his or her medication. Families just want to be heard; they want to help. I know there are times when parents are not helpful or do not understand, but in general, family participation outweighs the negative.
What it comes down to is confidentiality. Professionals are required to follow privacy laws. It protects them from lawsuits, and malpractice claims—but it can also cause a lot of frustration for parents who just want to help. There are still many doctors out there who will include an individual’s family and not duck behind privacy laws. Those are the ones you want on your recovery team.