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Yes, You Know Someone With Schizophrenia

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — agosto 10, 2021 — 4 min de lectura
Have you met someone with schizophrenia? Probably—whether you know it or not.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), up to 0.6 percent of U.S. adults will be diagnosed with schizophrenia.  

About one in 150 people. Let that sink in.

Statistically speaking, you have met (or will meet) someone with schizophrenia. Maybe they live in your apartment building. Maybe you work with them. Maybe they come to your family reunions.

So, how can you be a better neighbor, coworker, family member, or friend to someone with this illness? We spoke with Cardinal Innovations’ Cathy Weedman to find out.

Cathy, a Care Coordination supervisor, helps her team connect members to the right services and supports. During her career, she has worked directly with those diagnosed with schizophrenia. She’s also a licensed clinical social worker and has a master’s degree in social work. (See more about Cathy in her bio below.)

In this article, Cathy will explain:
  • What schizophrenia is
  • How people with schizophrenia can live independently
  • How to support someone with schizophrenia
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What Is Schizophrenia, Really?

“Simply put, schizophrenia is a serious persistent mental illness,” Cathy said. “This is a disease of the way people think and feel.”

For example, schizophrenia makes it more difficult for a person to:
  • Think clearly
  • Know what’s real or not
  • Manage emotions
  • Relate to other people
It’s a long-term mental disorder. And it’s typically diagnosed in the late teen years to early thirties.

Can People With Schizophrenia Live on Their Own?

Yes! With the right support, people diagnosed with schizophrenia can live full, connected lives.

The following are examples of great supports:
  • Medicine to manage symptoms
  • Therapy to learn coping skills
  • A trustworthy team of doctors, nurses, and support professionals like case managers
  • Compassionate friends, family members, and coworkers
  • Staying connected through meaningful activities like work and school
Some people with schizophrenia may use programs and services like psychosocial rehabilitation and Assertive Community Treatment to achieve their health goals.

They may also manage their symptoms with their everyday choices like:
  • Practicing good sleep habits
  • Minimizing their stress levels
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs

How You Can Support Someone With Schizophrenia

You may not know who, but it’s likely that you know someone with schizophrenia. So, you can start supporting them by changing how you talk about mental health: Below, Cathy offers more tips for friends, families, and colleagues.

Get Educated and Join In

“Learn as much as you can. Join NAMI,” she said. NAMI is a national organization that provides: If anything, read up on the diagnosis so you can better understand your friend or family member’s challenges.

Offer Hope and Partnership

Being a friend to someone diagnosed with schizophrenia is support in itself. “Listen – don’t judge. Keep an attitude of hope,” Cathy said.

Remind them that others with the diagnosis are leading fulfilling lives. If possible, go with them to the doctor. Walk their path with them as a hopeful ally.

“Also be realistic with them that this is going to take time,” she added. “This is a recovery journey.”

Stay Vigilant and Take Action

Cathy urges friends and family to “know the signs and symptoms of somebody not doing well.”

These signs look different for everyone. Some people self-isolate. Others may have trouble sleeping. Pay close attention to what’s “typical” for your friend. Then if they act out of character, you can respond more quickly.

“The sooner someone can intervene, the better,” Cathy said.

Some people with schizophrenia have a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). This plan explains how others can help the person struggling with their symptoms. If they don’t have a WRAP, then ask them how they want you to support them when they’re having trouble.
mental health screening

An online screening can help you figure out what you are feeling and how to find support.

The Best Way to Support Someone With Schizophrenia

Some people, especially family members, become scared of the person with schizophrenia, Cathy said. “It’s because they don’t know enough about the diagnosis itself.”

But she encourages families and friends to treat the person as a person – recognize the unique, special qualities of your friend/sibling/child. Continue to invite them to things. Make sure they feel included.

“Remember that somebody is not their diagnosis,” Cathy said. “They’re a whole, complete person.”


About Cathy Weedman, LCSW, MSW
Cathy Weedman is a licensed clinical social worker who has served people with mental health diagnoses for nearly 18 years. In her Care Coordination supervisor role at Cardinal Innovations, she helps her team work with members with mental health and/or substance use disorders. Cathy has also worked in both PSR and ACTT settings to support those diagnosed with serious mental illnesses, including schizophrenia.
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