Explains schizophrenia, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
How can friends and family help?
If someone close to you has schizophrenia, it can be hard to know how to help, but there are lots of things you can try.
This page offers some suggestions on how you can:
Ask what help they would find useful. This might include helping with everyday things like shopping or housework, taking them to appointments or reminding them to take their medication if they struggle to remember on their own.
See our page on how to help someone with schizoaffective disorder, which is similar to schizophrenia, for more practical tips.
You might feel unsure what to say or do when someone sees or believes something you don't – but it's important to remember that their experiences feel real to them.
It can help if you focus on how they are feeling, rather than talking about what is real or true. Instead of denying their experience it can help to say something like "That sounds really frightening, is there somebody you could talk to about it?".
If someone turns round and says it's not real, it just makes you feel more alone than ever.
It can be hard seeing someone close to you experience schizophrenia. They might find it hard to think clearly, have problems understanding what is real, stop taking care of themselves or avoid seeing people.
Try to notice positive things too. It can help to set small, realistic goals to aim for rather than focusing on what they can't do. It's also important to remember that losing interest and motivation are part of having schizophrenia and not something the person is choosing to do.
It could help to learn about the symptoms they might experience and the coping strategies they could find useful. You may find it helpful to read personal stories or speak to others in the same situation. See our useful contacts page for organisations that can help with this.
When your friend or relative is feeling well, it can be helpful to discuss with them how you can help if a crisis happens, or if they are at the start of another episode. You could:
- encourage them to write a crisis plan
- discuss which symptoms you can look out for
- get to know their triggers and plan how to cope with them.
This can help them to avoid crises or manage them differently in future where possible. When having these conversations, make sure you also think about how much you can cope with and try to only offer support that you feel able to give. It is important to look after yourself too.
Lonely, confused, isolated, scared, prejudiced against. That's how family members feel.
It can be distressing when someone you are close to experiences schizophrenia symptoms. It's important to invest energy into looking after yourself too.
You may find it helpful to get support coping with your feelings, either through peer support, where you can talk to other people with similar experiences, or talking therapy and counselling. This support may be available at a local Mind or other carers’ groups, such as Carers UK.
This information was published in November 2020. We will revise it in 2023.
References and bibliography available on request.
If you want to reproduce this content, see our permissions and licensing page.