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mental illness, substance abuse1. Arrange for a consultation with a professional who treats mental illness. This can provide an accurate diagnosis of what the actual problem is, and what type of mental illness is involved. The professional will look at all of the symptoms and factors in the case and then determine the right diagnosis so that treatment can be started as soon as possible.

2. Watch for any signs of substance abuse, and if these are present then arrange for an intervention. Individuals with mental illness often turn to drugs and alcohol to self medicate, and this can compound the problem and make the mental disorder much more difficult to diagnose properly.

3. Talk to your family physician and discuss what is going on. Often your family doctor can refer you to other resources as well as taking certain steps to resolve the situation. Many people are worried about speaking up or are embarrassed about the situation but it is no different than seeking assistance for a broken leg or infection.

4. Spend some time with the individual who is showing signs of mental illness, and report any symptoms that show a tendency to hurt themselves or others. Many people with a mental disorder never become violent or suicidal but this is always a possibility.

5. Get substance abuse treatment for the individual if a dual diagnosis is given or the individual is abusing drugs or alcohol. There are programs that specialize in a dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse so that both problems can be treated at the same time.