Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Early Intervention

From this great early intervention in psychosis resource site-

The Family’s Experience

Family members are often quite frightened or frustrated. They have seen an alarming change in their loved one’s behavior and may be unsure of what is going on. If they suspect a mental illness, they may be afraid to have their suspicions confirmed; their child or sibling may remind them of a family member with serious mental illness. They may feel ashamed or afraid that it is their fault. Some families may have religious or cultural beliefs that reject the possibility that the changes in their loved one are due to mental illness. In all situations, the professional needs to be encouraging and supportive. Most importantly, professionals need to listen to the family’s experience and concerns.

Often, families and friends ask how they should behave and talk to a person who is psychotic or showing early signs of a psychotic illness. There are no set rules, but some general guidelines are helpful:

  1. Be yourself. Understand that this is not your fault.
  2. Get information to help you understand the illness that is afflicting your loved one and how it affects his or her behavior.
  3. Try not to take it personally if your loved one says hurtful things to you when he or she is unwell. Minimize arguments or long discussions. Stay as positive as possible.
  4. Reduce stressors. Tone down emotions. Research shows that keeping the emotional atmosphere as calm as possible can speed recovery and help prevent relapse.
  5. Communicate simply and clearly.
  6. Solve problems step by step.
  7. Ask for help from professionals if you have questions.
  8. Don’t ignore violence or risk of suicide.
  9. Hopefully, you are involved in your loved one’s treatment. Whether or not the provider working with your loved one has permission to speak with you, you can always offer information and observations.

The information provided above was extracted from the booklet Recognizing and Helping Young People at Risk for Psychosis , developed by the Portland Identification and Early Referral (PIER) program and utilized in conjunction with the EDIPPP initiative. Please click here(link is external) to access the full document.

Additional Information

Please see below for additional resources and materials that may be of interest to individuals and families, including personal stories of recovery, tips for understanding and managing one’s illness, strategies for helping a family member, and opportunities to connect with others who are facing similar experiences.

Tips List:

Here are personal stories that highlight examples of young people who have experienced early psychosis, and the ways in which early intervention programs have helped them to move forward with their lives.

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