Supporting Someone Living With Schizophrenia
Whether your partner, sibling, parent, child, or friend is suffering from schizophrenia, it can be hard to know how to help them. You can feel totally and completely useless, unable to help make life better for them. While it can be difficult to know how you can help a loved one suffering from this form of mental illness, there are ways that you can make life that little bit better for them. Here are some simple ways that you can do that:
Learn about their condition
Did you know that the most common reason there is stigma surrounding mental illness is because of ignorance? A lot of people don’t understand mental health problems properly, which is what causes stigma. If you want to help a loved one who is suffering from schizophrenia, or another mental health problem, take the time to research their condition in detail, so that you understand as much about it as possible. Make sure to learn about the symptoms that this condition can cause, management methods, and coping strategies that can be useful. It can be helpful to talk to the person’s doctor or care team about their condition, with their permission, of course. Even if your loved one isn’t keen on their medical history to be shared with you, you can still ask about the best ways that you can care for them in times of crisis.
Ask how you can help
Sit down with your friend, partner, parent, child, or sibling and ask them how you can help. Explain that you are there to support them and want to help however you can. Instead of presuming that you know best when it comes to helping them, ask them what they need – what would be useful to them? This could include a range of things, from helping with their housework and cooking for them to taking them to medical checkups or ensuring that they take their medication. Normally, people with schizophrenia don’t know that anything is wrong until they get treatment and begin healing, so it can be hard to get them to see a doctor or take medication. Ask your loved one for their suggestions of how you can encourage them to seek help when they are unwell.
Focus on how they feel
Part of schizophrenia is having delusions and seeing things that aren’t really there. It can be hard to understand what a person is seeing in their minds when you can’t see it too, but it’s important to support them through whatever it is. For example, delusions of persecution in paranoid schizophrenics are common, and normally involve delusions about medical workers, the police, or the government trying to hurt them. Even though you don’t see or believe these delusions, it’s important to remember that they feel real to the sufferer, so you need to talk to them about them and focus on how they are feeling. Whatever you do, don’t tell them that their delusions are not real, as this will make them feel more alone and afraid than ever.
Find the positives
It can be awful watching a loved one struggle with schizophrenia, but it’s important to look at the positives of the situation. Instead of focusing on what’s going badly, think about what’s going well, such as that your loved one is taking their medication and not refusing to. Or that they are eating well and getting plenty of rest. Caring for someone with mental health problems is no easy task, which is why it’s important to focus on what’s going well, rather than what’s not, to help keep your spirits up.
Want to help a loved one with schizophrenia? Then take note of the tips and advice above.