Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

How to assess someone who refuses to talk

Sometimes you may be faced with people who refuse to talk. This could be for many reasons.They may be angry for having been brought to the clinic. They may be scared that talking to a health worker might mean they will be labelled a ‘mental case’. They may be suspicious of your motives.

The general advice in such situations is to allow more time. Interview the person in a private room if possible. If this is not possible, at least ask any relatives to stand far away so that the conversation cannot be heard by them. This may help the person feel more confident about sharing personal problems. Do not threaten the person, for example by saying that youdo not have time to waste. Instead, reassure someone who refuses to talk that you are interested in their problems. If the person refuses to talk and you have other work to attend to, say you need to go to complete the work and that you will return later when you have more time. This will allow the person some more time to think. It will also demonstrate your concern.

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