My 40-year-old son suffers from severe OCD and depression. It has become worse in the past 3 years. He has been in a relationship during that time but his partner is at the end of her rope and wants him out. He is on disability so he is home all the time and goes nowhere. He wants to move near us (not with us) but I don’t see how that will help. I was told he has been unhappy since we moved away 3 yrs ago. Should we help him move here and get set up or will I be enabling him? I am afraid if he feels no one cares he will try to harm himself. He keeps telling his girlfriend he will make appointments for therapy but usually cancels because he can’t be ready in time (OCD — long showers, etc.) so he really isn’t trying to get help. My husband feels it won’t do any good for him to come here but will only stress us out (me in particular). What do you suggest?
I don’t have all the facts concerning your situation, but your husband might be right about your not being able to help your son. You and your husband are not mental health professionals. It seems that he needs help beyond what you and your husband can provide.
If you are concerned that your son might hurt himself, then he should be hospitalized. The hospital staff can protect him and provide him with immediate treatment. When ready to be discharged, the staff would develop a plan regarding where he would reside. They may suggest that he be placed in a supervised living facility where he can be monitored until he is able to properly care for himself.
It may be difficult for you to intervene given your distance but you should explore the mental health services that are available in his community. You do this by searching the Yellow Pages or by searching the Internet. If there is a local mental health crisis team, you can contact them and discuss your concerns. The crisis team can go to his home and conduct a mental health assessment and determine which next steps are necessary. Having an outside professional opinion might help you to know how to proceed.
Generally speaking, it seems as though you are in need of professional intervention for your son. A challenge that you may encounter is that you can’t force your son to participate in treatment, if he is unwilling, unless he is a danger to himself or to others. In that case, the state will mandate his hospitalization until he is stable and able to remain safe. Perhaps that is what is needed in this situation.
Finally, you should contact your local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). They are an advocacy organization that assists people in navigating the mental health system and helps them to acquire mental health services. They are knowledgeable advisors and can provide your family with emotional and social support. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle