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What support is available for family of people with schizophrenia?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
If you are caring for a family member with schizophrenia, you should know that you are not alone. As a caregiver, you are doing a very difficult job. Resources are available, and it may help you to take advantage of these resources.

You may want to think about family therapy or family education. A mental health professional can help you and other family members learn how to cope with this difficult disease affecting your loved one. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a nationwide advocacy organization that has local chapters all over the country. This organization can provide information, referrals, and support to family members who are caring for a loved one with schizophrenia. Some NAMI chapters may run classes or groups aimed at helping the families of people with schizophrenia. For example, the California chapter of NAMI offers “Family to Family” classes, which are free 12-week courses on how to deal with mental illness (including schizophrenia) in a family member.

Other sources of support may include friends and neighbors. In addition, if you are finding that you need a break from caring for your family member, consider the option of a day program. This can give you a break for a few hours while you will know that your loved one is being cared for by a professional caregiver.
Katherine Lee
Social Work
Having a family member who suffers with schizophrenia can be very difficult. It is very important that you gain support from others who understand exactly what you are going through. There are many family support groups available on line or in your community. One of the most well known support organizations that you can join is NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Managing your stress and ensuring your well-being makes caring for loved ones much easier and more effective.

So check in with yourself from time to time. Take a yoga class or do some deep breathing. You can also try talking to a counselor or participate in a support group for relatives of people with mental illness.

Also, it’s important to understand the disease. It can help to sit in on appointments to see what the doctor or therapists talk about. They may be able to help you, too, by giving you tips or signs and symptoms to look out for. If this is not possible, seek out family therapy or group therapy opportunities. You and your loved one can go together, discuss the illness, and learn ways for both of you to cope.

Friends and family members of people with schizophrenia have a difficult task. They must help their loved one to keep symptoms under control and deal with psychotic episodes. Family and friends of people with schizophrenia must receive some type of support in order to do this well. Support is available for these individuals. It includes support groups where family members can meet and discuss issues with one another. Other types of support are classes and literature available from doctors that can explain the disease and make caring for your loved one easier.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.