TAKE THE INITIATIVE. If symptoms are occurring, ask your doctor for an assessment or referral. Family members are usually the first to notice symptoms and try to get medical help. If the ill person believes hallucinations and delusions are reality, they may resist treatment. Do not give up. Remember, the earlier psychosis is treated, the better the prognosis is for the individual.
BE PERSISTENT. Find a doctor who is familiar with schizophrenia. The assessment and treatment of schizophrenia and psychosis should be done by people who are well-qualified. Choose a physician who has an interest in the illness, who is competent and has empathy with patients and their families. If you lack confidence in a physician or psychiatrist, you always have the right to seek a second opinion.
ASSIST THE DOCTOR / PSYCHIATRIST. People with psychosis may not be able to volunteer much information during an assessment. Talk to the doctor yourself, or write a letter describing your concerns. Be specific. Be persistent. The information you supply can help the physician towards more accurate assessment and treatment.
OTHER SOURCES OF ASSESSMENT AND TREATMENT. The British Columbia Ministry of Health is the government department responsible for Mental Health Services in British Columbia. Assessment and treatment are available through Regional Mental Health centres throughout the province. To find the one nearest you, check your local phone book or contact the BC Schizophrenia Society 604-270-7841 or BC toll free 1-888-888-0029
TIPS FOR FIRST CONTACT
- Rehearse before you call. State what you need clearly and briefly.
- Make a note of the names of the people you talk to, along with the date and approximate time.
- If you can’t get the help or information you need, ask to speak to a case manager, supervisor, or the person in charge.
- If you can’t immediately reach the doctor or case manager, ask when you may expect a return call, or when the person will be free for you to call back.
GET SUPPORT – LEARN FROM THE EXPERIENCE OF OTHERS!
Knowing where to go and who to seeand how to avoid wasting precious time and energy can make huge difference when trying to find good treatment. Continuity of care is also very important. Ultimately, this will involve ongoing medical, financial, housing, and other social supports. All of these services are critical for recovery — yet they tend to be very poorly coordinated.
Support groups can help you figure out how to access much-needed services. They can also advocate for better, more integrated services for people with schizophrenia and their families.
Check out resources in your community. If you are the parent, spouse, sibling, or child of someone with schizophrenia it helps to know you are not alone.
Support groups are great for sharing experiences with others. You can also learn a lot and get helpful advice about how to deal with your local mental health services from those who have “been there.”
** Call the Mental Health clinic in your community Ask about their family education program
** Join the BC Schizophrenia Society! Call 604-270-7841 or toll free 1-888-888-0029 for information on how to join.
“WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO?”
Family members and friends of people with schizophrenia can be a powerful force for change.
Getting involved in advocacy is important because many people with schizophrenia are not able to advocate for themselves.
- Give you the information you need to be an effective advocate for your ill relative
- Give you the education and support you need to change an inadequate mental health system
- Help you to join your voice with thousands of other family members so that we can all speak more loudly!