Consent To Treatment.


When it comes to treatment of a mental illness, there are many things that are fundamentally different than a physical one. If you get admitted in a hospital with something like typhoid, you would have to put very little effort from your own side. You need to take the medicines regularly and even that is optional since in extreme cases, you can be sedated and injected with the necessary medicines intravenously. When treating a mental illness, there needs to be a voluntary effort from you as well. No amount of medicine and therapy would help unless you don’t want to get better.


When I was initially going through therapy, I struggled with the idea of needing to co-operate in order to get better. It was an alien idea to me because previously whenever I had been treated for my ails, taking medicine helped. The fact that I wanted them to work or not didn’t have any impact at all.

I believed it would be the same with depression as well. My first therapist didn’t point out the fact that I needed to put in some conscious effort as well and I went on without it. I would go to a therapist, talk a bit and return. I was waiting for them to work some kind of magic. Something that they must have learnt in psychology. Something that would make everything ok within minutes. It wasn’t to be so. I waited for some magic to take place but I didn’t realize that I was the magician I was looking for.

When I shared my Facebook post, I changed my therapist as well. She took me off anti-psychotics and was the first one to point it out to me that I need to put some conscious effort as well if I wanted to get better. To other therapists, it may have seemed like an obvious assumption but I was not aware of it at all. When I got to know is when I realized the importance of it. It made me realize that it was going to be my mind against me. The only thing I could seek from outside is emotional support to help me fight it. I couldn’t have had anyone other than me fight the battle for me.

Consent to Treatment.

This is why it is so important for anyone suffering from a mental illness to actually consent to the treatment they are looking for. Forcing someone to visit a psychiatrist or therapist would be redundant and just be a waste of time and money. You can try and convince someone to seek help. You can suggest them people they can reach out to but you cannot do it for them.

I sometimes get asked whether people should get me in touch with someone who is suffering, I tell them one thing, “You can tell them about me and suggest my services to them but if you force that person to talk to me, I would not be of much help.” It is something the counsellor at my high school had told me. I didn’t understand its significance then. When it comes to mental illness, outside effort cannot be a substitute for inner will. One can only be helped when they wish to be helped.

“We can only be your allies, your weapons and your shields. We can be anything you want us to be but we cannot fight this battle for you.”

When Rajeev visited his psychiatrist she told him he had Clinical Depression. Isn’t that what the lazy people use as an excuse? Rajeev believed it was a pharmaceutically invented illness to increase profits. He also was sure that it wasn’t real since his fore-fathers never complained of something like depression. Is he right? Find out tomorrow on

29 Replies to “Consent To Treatment.”

    1. It takes a herculean task to convince them to get help. I used to be one such person and it took the comments and support of more than a 100 people to put a crack on the tough cover that had developed. Forcing us to take medication or therapy helps no one.

  1. This is so true Arjun about anything to do with the mind. I would like to reflect on Neha s point Above. I know of someone very close who definitely has symptoms which need treatment but the person takes it as an insult if we as mu h suggest going and seeing a psychiatrist. She’s now too old and looks like there is little we can do when she refuses to seek help

    1. You can talk and try to convince her that seeing a psychiatrist is not all that bad. This is also a product of stigma attached to psychiatrists and mental health. It is worth a try

  2. You can talk and try to convince her that seeing a psychiatrist is not all that bad. This is also a product of stigma attached to psychiatrists and mental health. It is worth a try

  3. First of all, kudos for your theme once again. The stigma associated with a psychiatrist is unfortunately all too familiar. Happy to see you doing your bit for mainstreaming the topic.

    1. Thank you Lavanya. I hear it all too often that people talk about why they can’t visit the psychiatrist. The doctors are considered loony people who are supposed to only treat the mad. The more we work to change that, the sooner it happens.

  4. Self help is the greatest charity one can do to self. How true! When suffering from depression, does the sufferer understand this? It must be a great obstacle to overcome.
    Thanks Arjun for explaining mental illnesses in great details, one post at a time.

    1. It is a big task to accept. Patients think that they deserve it or that depression is for crazy people. Accepting the problem is the first step to solving it

  5. Most.people who are ill or depressed don’t accept it. Their spouse or family has to give them medicines on the sly by mixing it in food to keep them going. It is a difficult situation if the patient comes to know and stops eating food . I am glad to know you understood, accepted and treated your issue to talk about it.

    1. The problem is that medicines won’t help a lot if the person doesn’t accept them. The pills may lead to a release of serotonin but for them to take a lasting effect, we need to maintain the level of serotonin.

  6. Agree, the consent is important but the mental illness can make some people difficult to understand that they need a treatment. In that case I guess they need guidance or support from others.

    1. Agree on that. Support from outside helps, but, in order for sustainable recovery to happen, we need efforts from within.

  7. Consent certainly has to be an important element when it comes to mental illness as the acceptance that you need help is at times not easy to achieve by the sufferer himself. Another insightful post.

  8. We have a daughter who struggles with mental illness. Thankfully, she was able to see how important it was for her to get help. Sometimes she tries to go without her meds but soon spirals out of control. Part of it is anxiety related to autism. We hope that as she learns to cope with that, things will improve and she will one day be able to live without medication.

    1. I’m so glad to hear about your daughter. I tried to stop my meds once or twice as well but learned harshly that they have to be tapered off and not stopped abruptly. I genuinely hope she manages to cope without medicines. It hard but she has all the support she needs

    1. It took an effort from me to tell myself that I am not my disease. I didn’t accept that I was ill. I kept telling myself that this is who I am and it is what I deserve. It took effort from my side to tell and repeat the thought that I am I’ll and I can get better. Hope that answers your question, let me know of it doesn’t.

      1. I don’t know the particulars of the person in question here. In my case, I realized that my brain would run amok with its negative thoughts and I needed to get them in control. When I had those thoughts, I would say STOP out loud or internally. Some people chant in order to make the bad thoughts go away. The purpose of them is to distract and keep the mind in control of its thought process.

  9. Like many others have pointed, I am also unsure of telling someone they need help. Because mostly people would react angrily on being told so and will reject the idea of therapy.

    1. I think that even if we know the answer. Even if we are sure of what it will be, we should give it our sincerest effort. I understand why people don’t agree though.

  10. Oh yeah, consenting to something is a full fledged commitment, I was in bits and pieces a decade ago and had to suffer nervous breakdown. It was that time of my life when I thought everything is waste and should let it go. But a stranger helped me overcome and I had to commit myself not to attempt it again. That was a turning point in my life. Consent settles peace over doubts. Look forward for next post.

  11. Sometimes people are not ready to accept that they need help and thus do not consent to treatment. I k now of a doctor who required treatment bt was not ready to accept his condition. His wife also a doctor went through a tough time to make him understand why he required to ask for help and there is nothing wrong in it

    1. It becomes a much more tougher job to help people who refuse to accept it. I hope the doctor you mention is better now.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: