The person may have to be hospitalized. Try to convince him or her to go voluntarily; avoid patronizing or authoritative statements. If necessary, take steps to start the involuntary treatment process. If indicated, call the police but ask them not to brandish any weapons. Explain that your relative or friend has mental illness and that you have called for help.
- Don’t Threaten. This may be interpreted as a power play or prompt assaultive behavior.
- Don’t Shout. If the person isn’t listening, other “voices” are probably interfering.
- Don’t Criticize. It will make matters worse; it can’t make things better.
- Don’t Squabble with Other Family Members over “best strategies” or allocations of blame. It is not the time to prove a point.
- Don’t Bait the person into acting out wild threats; the consequences could be tragic.
- Avoid Continuous Eye Contact or Touching.
- Comply with Requests that are not endangering or beyond reason. This gives the person the opportunity to feel somewhat “in control.”
- Don’t Block the Doorway but keep yourself between the person and an exit.