You can’t force your friend to seek help. You can recommend that she seek help and you can and should encourage her to do so but you can’t force her into treatment. Only on rare occasions can someone be forced into treatment. Most states have strict imminent danger laws which indicate that a person can be involuntarily committed to a hospital only when they are on the verge of harming themselves or others. Individuals who are “just” paranoid, delusional and hallucinating, generally would not qualify as being imminently dangerous. These symptoms are often the initial symptoms of schizophrenia.
You might try to suggest that she see a mental health professional and that you or your wife will attend the appointment with her. She might be open to treatment if she knew she had support. Alternatively, she may reject the idea and if so, you will have to accept her answer.
Another approach is to contact her family and report your concerns. They may be familiar with her behavior and have a plan for how to help her. You said that her family is aware of her symptoms but they may not be fully aware. If they’re willing to take your phone call, then you should report what you have observed.
Your friend is fortunate to have people in her life who care about her well-being. You can try to recommend that she seek treatment but don’t be surprised if she rejects the idea. Also, try not to take it personally if she says no. Her symptoms indicate that she is not thinking logically. I hope that you can convince her to seek treatment. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle