What Family Members Need to Know General Tips for Coping After Someone Is Connected With Services
Research shows that family support and involvement in a young person's care has a positive impact on the recovery process.
Here are some tips you may find useful when supporting someone recovering from psychosis:
- Educate yourself about psychosis.
- Many families find it helpful to be in touch with others who are going through the same things. There are family support and education groups available in many communities. Please see the link to services in your area.
- Keep records. Your family member may be able to do this without your guidance but it is very important to keep a journal that records symptoms, medications (including dosages), and information from mental health personnel. Often it takes some experimenting to find the medication, or combination of medications that work best for a particular person.
- Young people often develop psychosis at a time in their lives when they are just becoming more independent, or are actually living on their own. When a young person becomes ill, they may need a level of support from their parents that they haven't needed for some time. This can be a significant shift for parents and their young adult children to have to make, and is not an easy situation to negotiate in the relationship. Support from the EPI team is available for families to help through any challenges.
- Learn to recognize signs indicating your family member is becoming unwell. These could include:
- other unusual behaviour that might indicate distress
- Try to keep the amount of stimulation low in the household, particularly during the early of stage of recovery and at time when your family member may still be experiencing symptoms. This might mean keeping television, stereo, or radio volume low, limiting the number of people in the home, lowering the lights, etc.
- Allow the person to close the door of their room.
- Encourage socializing. Although your family member may not be able to have a long or intense conversation, they can socialize by being part of an activity such as gardening, playing board games or cards, watching TV and movies, or doing crafts.
- Provide a structured and predictable environment.
- Your young person may feel they are experiencing sensory overload and have trouble concentrating. Stress can make these and other cognitive problems worse. In order to reduce stress, plan activities for each day and keep big events to a minimum.
- Keep routines simple.
- Young people recovering need time alone - just like everyone else.
- Let them know in advance if company is coming.
- Encourage participation in family activities, but accept refusals
- Give choices - maybe a quiet outing like a walk in the park rather than shopping in the mall.
- Be consistent. Caregivers should agree on a plan of action and follow it. If you are predictable in the way you handle recurring concerns, you will help to reduce confusion and stress for the affected person.
- Maintain peace and calm at home. You will want to keep voices down and speak at a slower pace. Avoid arguing about delusions (false beliefs).
- Together learn how to cope with stress. Anticipate ups and downs and work together to develop skills that will help in dealing with stress. The DWP toolkit in the resources section of this website provides resources for dealing with stress.
- Help your family member plan strategies for dealing with stress at events e.g. for example go to the washroom, outside for air, come arrive late, or leave early
- Gradually encourage your family member to increase their independence. As your family member begins regain their life back, so should their independence. It is important for young people to continue with social activities, education and employment if possible. If school or work are not possible, help your young person find ways to use their time constructively. This should be done slowly as too much pressure can slow recovery.