For months now Jim’s daughter, Cara, has been either a whirling dervish or a weeping basket case. He’s concerned that she has bipolar disorder and wants her to seek help, but he’s unsure how to proceed. Cara has gotten very defensive when he’s suggested therapy in the past, and he doesn’t want to jeopardize their tenuous relationship. He’d also like to talk it over with her new husband, who seems oblivious, but Jim doesn’t want to throw a monkey wrench into their marriage, either.
--Should Jim take the risk and confront Cara directly?
--Should he feel out her husband?
--Should he trust that since she’s a grownup, she’ll go into treatment when she’s ready?
--Should he seek professional guidance himself?
The Panel Weighs In
The panel was all in favor of Jim seeking professional guidance. Where they differed, though, was how he should go about it.
Lila: Jim should go to a therapist–-with Cara in tow. It’s too hard for anyone struggling with mental illness to take that first step alone. Yes, the father/daughter relationship may be rocky for a while, but it’s a risk Jim has to take if he’s to help her get well.
Chase: Forget Cara’s husband, who sounds like he’s out to lunch, and forget the idea of Cara seeking treatment on her own because, since she hasn’t done it yet, she probably won’t do it now. It’s up to Jim to stage an intervention to get his daughter the professional care she needs.
Maxine: I read that 1 in 6 Americans experiences mental health issues each year, yet there’s still so much stigma and shame attached to these disorders. Jim has to tread carefully with Cara, who may be more fragile than he realizes, but he can’t waver in his goal of getting her into treatment. Her life may depend on it.
Peter: Jim should go into therapy first to find out how to deal with the situation. Then, if Cara won’t join him, at least he’s helping himself.
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