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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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I am extremely worried about my 30 year old brother

Customer Question

I am extremely worried about my 30 year old brother, I am sure he is bipolar, my family has witnessed severe depression and manic episodes, however, he is yet to be diagnosed. He seems out of touch with reality and recently verbally attacked our mum saying untrue things about our upbringing, this is obviously very distressing. he has isolated himself from his family too and smokes cannabis which seems to trigger a change in his mood and cause paranoya.He has used drugs such as cocaine on a regular basis but the past couple of years he has stopped this, he got help for his addiction and began exercising regularly and seemed better for while. At times he appears very positive and is obsessed with bhuddism and spiritualism, this is a good thing, but he constantly tries to force his beliefs on others. he has a girlfriend but seems to be jealous and has kept her away from his family apart from the odd occassion. What is the best way to help him, should we approach his girlfriend, we are worried if she tells him it will push him further away from us, we got him to the doctor a couple of years ago and he had counselling and attended NA and a basement project which he did volunteering at for a while. He is slipping away from us and we are also worried about the effect on his 8 year old son who he sees on a regular basis. He is a great dad but his illness canges him, he is also a great person, very kind and funny but at the moment he thinks he knows better than everyone about the world we live in. How can we help him to see he is ill and needs help? Also our dad had severe manic depression/bipolar and committed suicide as 5 years ago.Should we tell him we think he has this same condition? would it be best coming from his doctor, maybe we could try to get his doctor to contact him? i am close to him, he usually listens to me above other family members but recently he's not been contacting me and when i ring him he makes excuses as to why he can't talk.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Norman M. replied 5 years ago.
Firstly, don't try to diagnose this for him - the only one who can do this is his Doc.

The essential thing is to get him to see his Doctor, and perhaps you and his girlfriend can co-operate in this.

This is a very difficult situation, and to be honest, there is no simple solution.


Until someone with a problem accepts that there is a problem, they won’t do anything about solving it. That’s the first hurdle. The second is convincing them that help is available, and that the should accept it.


Sustained gentle persuasion is at least part of the answer. Just being there to listen, and letting the person know that you are there for them may let them build up enough trust inside themselves to begin to deal with it.


You may not to be able to solve their problem, or for that matter understand how they feel, but just listening and letting them talk can be really helpful.


Getting people to open up can be difficult. It has to be done sensitively so that the person does not feel put down or alienated. A gentle approach like ‘It must be difficult feeling as you do. Perhaps we could talk about it? is often the best start.

Choose your time and place carefully if possible so that the person feels as safe and as comfortable as possible.


Try to make sure that the person feels that you are on their side, and try to use ‘open questions’ – ones that don’t allow a simple “Yes” or “No” answer.


Don’t try to give them solutions, because as they open up and talk, the person begins to find their own solutions.


Good beginnings are:


Where – 'Where did that happen?'

When – 'When did you find out……?'

What – 'What else was happening?'

How – 'How did you feel?'

Can you tell me…….

How are you feeling? This helps to get past the bare facts of a situation, and lets people

begin to look at their inner turmoil.


Don’t push hard or try to tell them what they MUST do – give them space and time to talk.


Get a couple of magazine articles about depression, and leave them lying around


There are some things you can do, and here are some tips:


What you can say that helps:


I’m here for you – you’re not alone.

What causes these thoughts and feelings is a real illness, and it can be treated..


You may not believe it now, but someday, this will pass and you’ll feel differently.


I care about you and want to help, even if I don’t really understand what you are going through right now, how you feel, and what you’re thinking


Don’t ever give up – just hang on one more minute or hour – whatever you can.


You are important to me. Your life is important to me, and to everybody who knows you


I’d like you to tell me what I can do now to help you.


We can get through this together


Don’t say:


Cheer up- it could be worse

Quit worrying about it – you’ll be fine

Your just imagining it, it’s all in your head.

Everybody feels like this sometimes

You’ll just have to help yourself

I’d have thought you would be better by now.

Get over it and snap out of it.

Grow up and act like an adult.

What’s the matter with you anyway?

You’ll also find some helpful information here:

Also the Samaritan’s web site in the UK here is a mine of useful information which will help you, as is the National Suicide Prevention line (in the USA), which you will find here.


Ultimately, of course, a person can be hospitalized against their will, but only under the strictest of circumstances.


The laws of committal vary from State to State, but in general there are broad similarities.

Committal is a legal means of providing individuals with emergency services and temporary detention for mental health evaluation and treatment when required. It can be voluntary or involuntary.


A voluntary committal is when a person 18 years of age or older, or a parent or guardian of a person age 17 or under, applies for admission to a facility for observation, diagnosis or treatment freely and of their own accord

An involuntary committal is when a person is taken to a facility for involuntary examination.

This can only be done when :

There is reason to believe that he or she is mentally ill and because of his or her mental illness

The person has refused voluntary examination and

The person is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary and without care or treatment, and the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself and such refusal could pose a threat of harm to his or her well being;

and there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself, herself or others in the near future as evidenced by recent behavior.

A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours.

A law enforcement officer may take an individual to a facility for evaluation if he has reason to believe that the individual's behavior meets the statutory guidelines for involuntary examination.


If a person is willing to swear in a Petition for Involuntary Examination that he has personally witnessed an individual causing harm to themselves or others, an "ExParte" for an Involuntary Examination can be made.

A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours on primary committal.


These are general guidelines, and you should get legal advice as to what specifically applies in your State.


Best wishes, NormanM






Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience: ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
Norman M. and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks Norman, what do we do if he refuses to see his doc? hopefully, we will be able to convince him to go, are we going to make him worse if we say we are really worried about him?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Inaccurate answer.
what do we do if my brother will not go to the doctor?
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 5 years ago.
Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Dear friend,

Norman gave you a thorough and thoughful answer and gave you many options.

If you brother does not respond, there is nothing you can do. He avoids you because he does not want your advice. Try giving him only your attention and friendship and love, and don't discuss his "problem". You are shutting the door to any influence you may have (which will have to be indirect and he will have to ask you for help). If you stand by him, without trying to criticise, anaylise, or change him, then he will begin to "trust" you again. He wants a brother and not a father.

Warm regards,

Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC