Conflicted About Being Involved in My Brother's Mental Health Treatment

Published: May 23, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,
My parents plan to take my brother to a psychiatrist for problems like depression and impulsion. They know that he has confided in me and want me to talk to the doctor so that he can get more information. Would I be able to do that off the record as a visitor, or is that something that only parents can do? I'm not a minor but my brother is. I'm willing to help but don't want to be documented as the patient of one of those people.
Signed: Conflicted About Being Involved in My Brother's Mental Health Treatment

Dear Conflicted About Being Involved in My Brother's Mental Health Treatment,

Mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and clinical social workers, often take notes following sessions with clients. These notes might outline things like presenting problems, family history, current symptoms, mood of the client during the session and recommendations for treatment. If you were to meet with your brother’s therapist, most likely a session note would be recorded as something like, “Client’s sibling reports…” and would outline whatever information you might provide about your brother’s symptoms, moods and behaviors.

If you have a concern as to how a session involving you would be documented, the best thing to do would be to ask the psychiatrist about any specific questions or concerns you might have at the beginning of the session.

TeenHealthFX is wondering about your view of mental health providers as one of “those people.” It sounds like there is some negative view of mental health practitioners and FX is curious as to why that is. What we will say is that there can be a stigma about mental health issues and a subsequent negative view of therapists for a variety of reasons. However, FX invites you to think about it this way: If your brother had symptoms that indicated he might be diabetic it would make perfect sense for your parents to take him to a medical specialist who could review his symptoms, make an accurate diagnosis and provide him with the treatment he needs to reduce or eliminate symptoms and maintain good physical health. Well, mental health is actually not that different. Research has shown that with various mental illnesses, including depression, there are chemical reactions occurring in the brain that are causing symptoms. So if someone is showing signs of depression it makes sense to meet with a healthcare provider who can give an accurate diagnosis and provide treatment that will alleviate symptoms and improve overall mental health and well-being.

TeenHealthFX is glad to hear you are willing to meet with your brother’s psychiatrist because it has the potential to be very helpful for your brother. We can appreciate that you may have some negative views about mental health providers and we hope that you will talk about it with someone so you can feel more open and relaxed in meeting with your brother’s psychiatrist. For more information about what your brother’s experience might be like, consider reading the TeensHealth article, Going to a Therapist.

Signed: TeenHealthFX