Encouraging Someone to Seek Medical Treatment

As soon as you can, enlist the aid of the person who needs help. This may be possible if the person does not have psychotic symptoms. Let her know there is hope for a majority of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. With treatment, she can work to be one of them.

Addressing the Issue of Stigma

If someone is worried about the stigma that is still attached to the labels “mentally ill” and “schizophrenia,” it may cause her to resist treatment. Reassure her that mental illness can be treated effectively and that getting better is the best way to counter the opinions of misinformed or uninformed strangers or acquaintances.

Don't accept a stranger's conscious or unconscious decision to deny you respect. You have a choice of ignoring or correcting people who are uninformed enough to believe and perpetuate stereotypes. It is always a good idea to educate the general public, when possible, about the facts concerning psychiatric illnesses.

The patient is the one who matters, not the people who know nothing about what a person with schizophrenia experiences. Reassure the patient that there is no weakness in overcoming a disease and that she will have help getting better.

Explaining Your Concern

The patient should know that your advice is based on the best information you can obtain. Let her know why you are encouraging her to seek help at this time. Be specific about the symptoms that make you think she could benefit from talking to a professional. Relate your concerns to specific aspects of her life. You might say, for example, “It looks like you don't do many of the things that used to make you happy. I'm concerned you may not be doing what you like. Perhaps we can find a way to make you feel better so you can do more of the things you liked doing.”

It may help to talk to the people who work in the clinic, hospital, or doctor's office before you take the patient to her appointment. Ask them what will happen when the patient arrives. Then share that information in detail with the patient. If she knows what to expect, she will be more likely to participate. Speak steadily, supportively, and calmly. Let her know that you care and will support her all the way from her first treatment until she is well again.

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