Caring for a young person living with schizophrenia
Having a young person in your family receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be difficult. In this moment, it’s important to remember that you are not alone.
Caring for a young person living with schizophrenia can have some unique challenges. We’ve collected some advice and tips below to support you, as you support the person living with schizophrenia.
Some people have concerns that their loved one will struggle with education, or not be able to achieve their goals such as attending university or going into an apprenticeship/employment. However many people living with schizophrenia lead largely normal lives and can be very successful.
You can help your loved one by working with their place of education to make them aware of any time that they may need to take out for appointments, and by speaking to their tutors to find out about any work they need to catch up on.
Medication and attending appointments
Going to a doctor to receive treatment can be unnerving for some young people living with schizophrenia. You can help your loved one by offering them support and encouragement at the clinic.
If your loved one takes oral medication (pills or tablets) then try and make sure that they take them at the correct time each day. They may become frustrated that you remind them frequently. You will find it helps to take the time to explain the importance of taking medication as prescribed by their doctor, and to remind them that you only ask because you care about their wellbeing.
After being diagnosed and starting treatment, your loved one may need to spend more time at home for a while so they can adjust to their medication. Try and make plans for friends to come and visit, and set up activities with which they can keep themselves busy.
Social life and friends
A young person with schizophrenia may find that their diagnosis affects their confidence, or makes socialising more difficult. Offer them love, support and advice during this time. Try and help them organise activities that fit into their routine and which their friends could get involved with too.
Because of the nature of schizophrenia many people will experience a relapse. This is where their symptoms return to a state which is similar to before they started their treatment, which can have long-term consequences on your loved one's functioning. When this happens it is important that you tell their doctor as soon as possible, as the longer they go without treatment, the greater the chance that long-term damage could occur.11
How to deal with an upcoming crisis
If you recognise signs in your loved one that indicate that they are going to have an episode, there are a number of steps that you can take:
- Contact their healthcare team to let them know as soon as possible, so that they can get the help they need
- Help them find a safe place away from stressful situations and too many people – usually this is their home
- If you feel like your loved one or the people around them are in danger, go to your local accident and emergency room and ask to see the duty psychiatrist
Work with your loved one to come up with a plan so that you both know exactly what to do if a psychotic episode comes on unexpectedly. Remember to follow the advice of your loved one’s doctor and work with them to come up with a plan that works best for both of you.