If you are a relative of someone living with a diagnosis it is essential to educate yourself about the mental illness. Here are some credible websites that I personally use and recommend to others:
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration
- The National Institute of Mental Health
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada)
- Obtain personal referrals to resources such as treatment facilities and housing options
- Learn from other people's experience how to cope
- Discuss concerns with someone who has been there and who understands
Although the hospital stay can be hard on you and your family member living with a diagnosis there are benefits to the hospital stay. For instance, the hospital staff stabilizes your loved one through medication and/or therapy. They offer education to your loved about the mental illness. The environment is monitored if your loved one is a danger themselves.
Lastly, coming from an individual who was court-ordered to take medication, if your loved one is severely affected by their mental illness and is not functioning or is a danger to themselves or others, mandated medication compliance may need to be researched.
Get to know health care professionals to assist you in a situation where this is needed. Court-ordered medication compliance is NOT for everyone. I'll use myself as an example. When my illness got really bad, I became catatonic. I was not moving my body limbs for periods at a time. I had stopped eating, drinking, showering and speaking.
In fact, my mother thought she was going to have to take full guardianship of me because my illness was so devastating. Now, I am thankful that my family supported court-ordered medication compliance because it saved my life.
However, with BOTH medication and therapy I slowly but surely got well again to the extent that I voluntarily took my medicine as recommended by the doctor regularly and participated in support groups. DO NOT underestimate the importance of a combination of therapy, medication, and support groups- they work, for me at least.
In short, I suggest that family members get a better understanding of the illness. join a support group, do not hesitate to get support from other facilities like the hospital, and if in a severe situation research and follow through on court-ordered medication compliance. Lastly, continue to support your loved one by being there for them in whatever capacity you can take on.
These tips are only suggestions and are not to replace professional advice.
To learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).