Helpful Hints about Schizophrenia for Family Members & Others
Family and friends of a person with schizophrenia often do their best to support their loved one initially, but over time, may find themselves frustrated by the what seems like a lack of progress while the person is in treatment or even their inability to even continue treatment. A family’s emotional support may wane, and some families will feel the need to terminate communication with their schizophrenic loved one.
It may be difficult to maintain a friendship with a schizophrenic person, as well, due to friends feeling helpless and unable to really understand the situation. The friendship may drift apart when the schizophrenic person experiences delusions or hallucinations; the friend may feel ill-equipped to handle it. The schizophrenic person may also drop out of treatment, which can also leave a friend unsure as to what to do. While friends and family want the best for their loved one, the most common challenge for them is not really knowing how to help – or offer sustained support – to their loved one who suffers from schizophrenia. With continuous, long-term support a person with schizophrenia may be less inclined to become homeless or unemployed.
Support options can be varied. Not only can family and friends be potential sources for encouragement for a schizophrenic person, but also shelter operators, roommates, case managers, residential or day program providers, and churches. While many patients reside with their families, it is not always the case that families are the primary support system for those with schizophrenia.
There are a number of instances in which people with schizophrenia may need help from people in their family or community. Often, a person with schizophrenia will refuse to go to treatment, believing they do not require psychiatric help and their that delusions or hallucinations are real. At times, family or friends may need to take an active role in having them evaluated by a professional.
Civil rights may be an obstacle for those trying to get help for their loved one with schizophrenia. Strict laws protecting patients from involuntary commitment may prevent families from getting a severely mentally ill loved one the help they need, which can be frustrating for all involved in seeking treatment. These laws vary from state to state; generally, when people are dangerous to themselves or others due to a mental disorder, the police can assist in getting them an emergency psychiatric evaluation and even hospitalization, if needed. In some situations, staff from a local community mental health center can evaluate an individual’s illness at home if he or she will not voluntarily go in for treatment.
6 Tips to Help Family Members and Friends of a Schizophrenic Person
1. Stick by and advocate for the person with schizophrenia.