Information for Families
Families are often the first to recognize their family member is unwell. Families can help a loved one with psychosis in many ways such as being emotionally supportive, encouraging their loved one access support, providing helpful information to professional supports, and helping with practical needs such as going to appointments. Families are an essential member of the treatment team.
While it is important to encourage a family member with psychosis to access support, mental health support is voluntary. This means that, unless someone is in immediate danger, your family member can be regularly experiencing symptoms of psychosis and may still choose not to engage in support. Although it is obvious to you that they are not well, it may not be obvious to them. Their symptoms may be causing them to feel mistrusting or paranoid about mental health professionals. Or they just may not want or feel ready to get help.
Whether or not your loved one is actively engaged in support, there are some things families can do:
Put Safety First!
If at any time your loved one is in immediate danger to themselves or someone else, call 911. It is during these times when mental health support can become involuntary, and your loved one may be assessed by a doctor and admitted to hospital for assessment and intervention.
You can be supportive of your loved one and encourage them to access support. Sometimes we all need to hear something a few times before we recognize it might be a good choice. Families can remind their loved one of the importance of getting support; the key is not to push for support too hard, but to encourage it. Try to avoid conflict. Rather, look for common ground and encourage your loved one to make a good choice.
Make a Referral
If you think your loved one has psychosis and they are open to the idea of support, you can try calling one of the numbers on our contact page. If during your discussion with a Lynx Worker it is thought that Lynx Early Psychosis Intervention is not the most appropriate program for your loved one, they will make suggestions for other programs and supports.
Learn About Psychosis
Knowledge is powerful, and it can be very helpful to learn all you can about the illness and the steps involved in recovery.
Take Care of Yourself
A caregiver provides better support when they themselves are taken care of. Take time for you. This might include talking to people you trust, going for a walk, reading a good book, and remembering things that are going well in your life. Strategies likes these are important so that you will be better prepared to manage the crises or stressors that may be happening in your life. We all need to ensure our emotional bank account has a surplus so that we don’t go into overdraft every time life makes a withdrawal.
Access Family Support
Different mental health agencies may offer caregiver support programs. These programs can help you learn about the mental health system, psychosis and other mental health issues, and help you explore opportunities for connecting your loved one with mental health care. Sometimes agencies also offer peer support; an opportunity to be in a group atmosphere with other caregivers with shared experiences. I can be helpful to not feel alone in your situation. Contact the Lynx program or an agency near you to ask about services they provide to families.
The Lynx Early Psychosis Intervention Family Support program offers:
• Crisis consultation
• Emotional support
• System navigation
• Discussion of skills and strategies
• Peer Support