Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

My son refuses treatment for mental illness. How do you help?

My 27 yr old son has had a second baker act and just got out after 72 hours. First time they kept him in for 1 week. He refuses to admit there is a problem and thinks they we just want to ruin his life. He does not realize that he is ruining his life and is so paranoid, that it has consumed him. He has refused seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist or take medicine. This is devastating the entire family. We are so afraid of him running away and never seeing him again. Please help give advice. We don’t even have a diagnosis. Its not drugs or alcohol. This was a young man that was on top academically(top in HS and cum laude from Ivey League with a great career in NYC). He was the sweetest, kindest, compassionate person and now I’m not sure who he is. Our hearts are breaking!



My son is 27 too, and while he’s been ill since he was 15 and had some insight, he’s now thinking he’s not ill, doesn’t need help, etc.

He just came home from his first stay in the hospital on an involuntary hold (12 days). My biggest fear is him becoming homeless and untreated, so I know how it feels to think about that before you act or speak.

I bought a book that lots of people recommend called “I’m not sick, I don’t need help” by Doctor Amador. I’m still wrapping my head around it, but it’s meant to help people who are have a family member just like yours & mine. I got my copy from Amazon - it’s not too long, so it doesn’t take long to read, but I think it takes a lot of practice to get right. But, the way I look at it, I might as well start.

I also went to my first support group for families last week. It was incredibly helpful to hear stories and know that we’re not the only family going through this. I highly recommend it if you have one close enough that you can go to.

Other than that, I don’t have any advice - just wanted to say I know exactly how you feel - like you’re trapped in a nightmare with no help and no way out.


Sadly - this is a really common problem with psychosis / schizophrenia. I recommend your entire family watch these videos and get the book - and just keep working at getting him treatment. All the families here know how hard it can be.

As you may know - the sooner he can get treatment the better the recovery.

Have everyone in the family read up on “First Aid for Psychosis” here:

and watch these videos below:


and read his book too:

and check here for a local early psychosis evaluation and treatment center - for when he finally does get more receptive.

I’m so sorry for your son and family. I remember thinking for a solid year what a cruel joke this illness is. It strikes people as they are just embarking on their lives and it’s hard enough when they agree to take their meds. My heart goes out to you and to everyone here. The people on this forum know exactly what it is like. A day at a time is how you do it. God bless!


Good afternoon

My son is 30 years old and has the same diagnose. he does not want to drink medication and he says there is nothing wrong with him. the only problem is that I do not have a husband and my 19 year old daughter cannot live with him any longer. we are looking for a placement home or hospital for him but does not seem to get one. even if it just to keeping him for some period and them send him home for a while. if I did not have my daughter it would not have been so bad but it is unfair towards her because she has her own depression problems and have a back problem.

We live in a village where I work and he just causes problems being drunk at the bar every day until closing time and wandering around. we will be given notice if this behaviour continues because the people are constantly complaining about him even though he is not violent or aggressive. what will happen if I lose my job because previously people were fired for personal problems. I cannot afford to rent a house in the nearest town (30km away) and my car is as old as the hills.

Please if anyone knows of a placement centre for schizo patients please let me know. we are in south Africa north west province.

thank you and we should all pray for families with schizo patients because ask me - it is hell to have one in your house.


I’m sorry to hear you’re having such a difficult time with your son. It is a terrible feeling when my son takes off, not knowing where he is. My son is 26 and has symptoms of schizophrenia and is now living with us. I too need some help with dealing with a loved one who refuses to go get help. He’s never been committed. Until he started living with us I had no idea how severe his illness is. There were so many odd conversations and delusional things said in the past but I had no idea how bad it was. After he went missing on the streets of LA for a few weeks I found out that he probably has schizophrenia from a psychologist he saw a few times. She mentioned to me in a conversation that there is all kinds of information on the internet about paranoid schizophrenia. I did my research and the pieces started to come together.

Because he has an addiction to marijuana and we have younger kids at home, we felt we had to ask him to move out a few years ago. Eventually, some mutual friends asked him to caretake one of their places in a more remote place that was safe and he didn’t have to pay rent. That lasted a couple years but he couldn’t handle the isolation and wasn’t able to manage working or having a truck. He would say that people were coming to a place stealing his things, little things like little crystals, pencils and CDs and he seemed to be in a whirlwind of paranoia about a government plot. Boarding up window from the inside.

After an incident, a friend convinced him to go to the psychologist I mentioned earlier and he was diagnosed and she sent to a psychiatrist but he never went. When he told me about going to her he said he would rather be homeless on the streets than go to a therapist/psychiatrist …he would never go on medication. He thinks they are trying to poison him.
He is now living with us after he called us and asked us to help get him off the streets of LA, he had everything stolen from him but his ID. It is a very complicated story as I’m sure it is for most of us. I feel so confused and unsure what to do from here. Everyday brings a new challenge/frustration and a lot of prayers. I am spending as much time as I can educating myself about this illness and it helps, but where do we go from here?


After years of having it recommended to me on sites like this, I bought a book called I’m not sick, I don’t need help by Dr Xavier Amador. I got mine on Amazon.

I’m a good reader, and usually grasp new material quickly, but I’m having to go over and over this book because the concepts go against my nature. However, I’m starting to get little tiny pieces & I’m sure it will come together.

It talks about better ways to communicate with someone with SZ who lacks insight and refuses meds so that you can build a relationship, establish trust, and find something you can agree about so you can find some reason for them to get treatment - even if they will never see that they’re ill.

Maybe you’ll find some help there. There are also videos on this site that I need to bookmark. I keep recommending the book, then others come after and post the links.

Edit: I should have read up - all that information is on this page!

It really is a good book - it should be required reading for everyone, not just people caring for others with mental health problems.

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Thanks, I watched the videos and they helped my husband and me a lot. I was a little unsure about purchasing the book, but now it sounds like a good idea. I’m on the right path but it seems like such a long one.

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I found the book more helpful than the videos, but I like books.
For me, it’s easier & faster to reread until I get it than repeat the videos, and I kind of carry the book around with me as a reminder to think about it.

Of course, I don’t let my son see me carrying the book around …

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