Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Getting help for a friend

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Question
I have a friend that I believe does have mental health issues and I want to get her help but I do not know how. Here's some of the situation,she is very paranoid about everything and thinks people are always doing something to her everything from trying to scam her,to blowing up her house to poisoning her. She also has violent over reactions to seemingly minor situations such as food coming out cold. And I also have to mention she does have a brain injury and did have brain surgery a few years ago for a condition called Chiari Malformation. I do not know if these issues could be caused by a brain injury(I did not know her before hand to compare)or a separate mental illness. I am very concerned about her and I do not know what to do

Answer
She's lucky to have you as a friend.

It's always hard to deal with people who are paranoid because there's no anti-paranoia medication. The option, psychotherapy, would help if there were trust, but it's generally lacking.

Try to stick to being a friend without crossing over to trying to serve as a therapist yourself. If you were to try to get her to see a mental health professional, that is taking a somewhat therapeutic role -- unless you do it deftly.

I don't know what resources are available where you are, but I think the ideal helper would be a clinical psychologist trained in both neuropsychology and cognitive behaviour therapy. If you can find such a specialist and if in your interactions with her you don't agree or disagree with her interpretations, she may trust you enough to accept your eventual suggestion that you know someone whom she can trust and who can help her with strategies to deal comfortably with other people and incidents.   

I hope my comments will be somewhat helpful but please understand that not every condition can be improved no matter how well-meaning you are. I hope this will be an exception.

Alan

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Thank you for your generous feedback evaluation.

If you want further info you could Google CM but I'm not sure there's any connection. You might also see the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario site.  There will be no section called "How to get help for a friend who needs it" but knowing what resources and support exist might be helpful. And you could look up Psychologists, Clinical in your Yellow Pages, and talk with one or two of them to see if any advice flows from that profession.  But just being her friend is probably the most beneficial for her.

A.  

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Alan Auerbach

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Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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