How to Help a Schizophrenic

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Helping a loved one or friend with schizophrenia can seem like a daunting task.

But there are plenty of public and private resources at your disposal to assist a schizophrenic in gaining access to care and ongoing support. When a person becomes dangerous to himself or others, can't function alone or is a burden to caretakers, it's time to seek help.

Visit the hospital

Visiting the emergency room is often the first stop you can make with a schizophrenic friend or family member. Health professionals there will be able to evaluate the severity of symptoms and recommend a course of action. In some cases, involuntary admission to a mental health facility is needed.

Ask questions

One of the best ways to help a schizophrenic is to become part of the treatment process. Educate yourself by asking questions of doctors, therapists or social workers. Become armed with information so that you can best advocate for proper care. Regularly check in with the schizophrenic's health care providers to ensure you are updated on his progress.

Don't confirm delusions

Family members often make the mistake of going along with or confirming a schizophrenic's delusions or hallucinations. This is the opposite of what you should do, as it's important to gently remind the person that the voices they hear or the things they see aren't indeed real. Talk to a professional about how to handle these types of situations so you don't put yourself or the patient in danger of an angry outburst.

Help establish healthy routines

Schizophrenics, when on the right dosage of medication and who receive therapeutic intervention, can often live productive lives. Help the person establish a healthy routine that is rooted in positive habits and independence. Encourage them to eat the right foods to promote mental health, get enough exercise and take care of basic chores and self-care tasks like grooming, bathing or working.

Be affirmative

Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to keep a schizophrenic motivated. Criticism and negativity will usually only make symptoms and outbursts worse. Affirm what the person is doing right and give praise often.

Source: NIMH