How to Support Somebody Living With Schizophrenia

If you are reading this, there is likely somebody in your life who has been diagnosed with this severe mental illness - whether it be a family member, close friend, partner, spouse or someone else you know. This type of situation is often a confusing and emotionally painful experience for those close to the person to go through - particularly when they have no idea of how to best help the person and don't know much (if anything) about the condition.

Be assured that you are not alone, and that it is possible to be able to help somebody to not only manage their condition but also live a decent quality of life. Read through the following steps to get a better idea of how.


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    Educate Yourself. Learn as much as you can about the condition. By doing so, you'll gain a lot of useful insight into the types of difficult things that sufferers of this disease experience and how it affects them on a regular basis. There are various ways of doing this, including online research.
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    You could start with the sites listed under the Sources and Citations section in this article, buying books or borrowing them from your local library, taking a psychology course or speaking to a medical professional (if this is something which is an option for you).
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    If possible, keep yourself informed on any psychological treatment they might be receiving. If you are a relative or partner/spouse of the person, keep up regular communication with the mental health professional who is providing this, so that you can take an active part in supporting this treatment.
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    Assist the person with scheduling, recording its use and especially remembering to take the prescribed medication. This is a very important part of aiding the person, as skipped medication doses -- especially if this happens regularly for any reason -- can lead to further problems. Encourage them as best as you can to take it on time, if at any point they forget or for some reason don't want to take it -- unless it's apparent that in some way the medication is having unwanted side effects/making the patient feel worse, in which case seeking appropriate medical advice is advisable.
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    Communicate with the person in non-aggressive ways. In the event that you are ever on the unexpected receiving end of hostile/disturbing behaviour from the person during a psychotic episode -- remember that they are experiencing things beyond their control at that time (which can be in the form of delusions, hallucinations and disordered thinking) -- as a result of how this illness affects their brain. Avoid arguing with them or trying to convince them that what they are experiencing is not real as this is unlikely to help.
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    Acknowledge their thoughts/feelings verbally -- but without agreeing or disagreeing with them -- and try to speak to them in a comforting way. Be as calm and patient with the person as you can.
    • If this doesn't help, and the person gets agitated to the point where they are resorting to violent behaviours/putting their own life at risk, seek appropriate medical help by calling emergency services and explaining the situation.
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    Consider joining a support group. Find out if there are any which are local to you. This is another good way of finding out valuable information about the disease and an opportunity to meet and connect with others who are going through the same types of difficult experiences as you.
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    Don't neglect your own needs. Remember to take good care of yourself too. In order to be a positive support source for others, it's important to ensure that your own physical and psychological health states are also as good as they can be.
    • If at any time you are feeling that this situation is starting to have a negative impact upon either or both of your personal health states, you might want to consider counseling and/or taking a break at some stage and letting a relative or professional carer help out with caring for this person -- if caring for them is something you do on a daily/regular basis.
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    Be aware of the social stigma that is attached to individuals with mental health disorders. Your friend or relative may not receive fair and unbiased treatment when looking for a job or in other social situations. Educating others that the person with a mental illness is rarely dangerous and has the same emotional needs as any other person can help. In other cases, be aware that some will refuse to make allowances for someone with mental illness, and though that is illegal and inhumane, it is difficult to address. Find supportive employers, family and friends and avoid those who have difficulty being understanding and accepting of those with mental illness.


  • Remember that schizophrenic people are not necessarily dangerous.


  • Save a life—don't call the police during a mental health emergency if you live in America. Police may traumatize or kill the person.[1][2][3] Call a hospital, health care professional, or suicide hotline if need be.

Article Info

Categories: Disability Issues | Schizophrenia Delusions and Psychosis