Schizoaffective disorder

For anyone who has been given a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, and their friends and relatives. Explains what the disorder is, and the types of treatment and support available.

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Where can I be treated?

You may be offered treatment for schizoaffective disorder in a number of different settings, depending on your symptoms and what is available in your area:

Health and social care

Your GP will probably refer you to your local community mental health team (CMHT). You may be seen by a variety of health professionals, including psychiatrists, mental health nurses and psychologists.

These services aim to support your recovery by treating existing problems and by working on strategies to help prevent problems from coming back.

In England you may be given a care plan under the Care Programme Approach, especially if you have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. This means you would be allocated a named care co-ordinator, and have a written care plan which should be regularly reviewed. A similar system applies in Wales.

Hospital admission

If you become very distressed during an episode, you may be admitted to hospital.

This may be:

  • as a voluntary patient
  • under the terms of the Mental Health Act 1983 – known as being ‘sectioned’.

If you are admitted to hospital, this gives medical staff a chance to assess your needs and decide how to help.

In-patient care can be helpful and supportive, giving you help from a team of experienced mental health professionals, as well as the chance to meet other patients with similar problems and circumstances. However, some people find psychiatric wards distressing, e.g. if there’s not much to do or there is little privacy.

Crisis services

These exist in some areas as an alternative to hospital. They may offer accommodation, or support in your own home.

Advocacy

Unfortunately while you are in a crisis medical professionals may not take seriously what you have to say. It can be very helpful to have the services of an advocate to help put forward your views, and to negotiate treatment and care that you can accept.

An advocate supports you to:

  • express your views and concerns
  • access information and services
  • defend and promote your rights and responsibilities
  • explore choices and options

Therapeutic communities

Therapeutic communities provide a supportive, live-in environment for people with mental health problems. They usually hold regular meetings with all residents. You may benefit from the insights that others with similar problems can offer, and learn to live successfully in a group. The length of stay is usually limited to a set period of time.

You can ask to be referred to a therapeutic community by your doctor or mental health professional.

I was part of the community for 18 months which was both unbelievably helpful, and incredibly hard work. The support I received from other patients was amazing and has provided me with wonderful friendships.


This information was published in July 2016. We will revise it in 2019.


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