Schizophrenia and the Family Network
Schizophrenia and the family network can sometimes be at odds. However, it is important for those with schizophrenia to have a solid support network of family members, healthcare professionals, and others who are concerned about the person's well being. Family and friends can help a loved one with schizophrenia set realistic goals and regain his or her ability to function in the world.
Support for someone with a mental disorder can come from:
- Family members
- A professional residential or day program caregiver
- Shelter operators
- Friends or roommates
- Professional case managers
- Anyone else in their community or place of worship that is concerned for the person's welfare.
There are many situations in which people with schizophrenia will need help from other people.
People with schizophrenia often resist treatment, believing that their delusions or hallucinations are real and psychiatric help is not required. If a crisis occurs, family and friends may need to take action to keep their loved one safe.
The issue of civil rights enters into any attempt to provide treatment. Laws protecting patients from involuntary commitment have become very strict, and trying to get help for someone who is mentally ill can be frustrating. These laws vary from state to state, but generally, if a person is dangerous to himself or others because of mental illness and refuses to seek treatment, family members or friends may have to call the police to transport the person to the hospital if he or she will not go willingly. In the emergency room, a mental health professional will assess the patient and determine whether a voluntary or involuntary admission is needed.
People with mental illnesses who do not want treatment may hide their strange behavior or ideas from a professional, so family members and friends should ask to speak privately with the person conducting the patient's examination and explain what has been happening at home. The professional will then be able to question the patient and hear the patient's distorted thinking. Professionals must personally witness bizarre behavior and hear delusional thoughts before they can legally recommend commitment, and family and friends can give them the information they need to do so.