What Can I Say as a Family Member?
Compassion, empathy and understanding are essential when communicating with someone who has schizophrenia. It’s important to practice active listening by paying attention to their body language to better understand their wants, needs and feelings. Be patient when they express their beliefs, acknowledging and validating them even if you disagree.
Encourage them and give them time to process what you’re telling them so they have a better chance of remembering what you were talking about. This could mean breaking down the discussion into short, clear sentences. If your loved one is experiencing psychosis, seek immediate help for them.
What Shouldn’t I Say to a Friend or Family Member With Schizophrenia?
It’s essential never to dismiss your loved one’s symptoms. Telling someone their symptoms are “in their head” won’t make them go away. Distorted thoughts and delusions feel very real to those who are experiencing them.
Avoid being judgmental about their experiences or perceptions. If they don’t feel like talking, respect that. Make an effort to understand things from their point of view.
During a psychotic episode, don’t overwhelm your friend or loved one with directions or requests. If someone close to you is living with schizophrenia, empathy and compassion can be significant elements to improve the lines of communication.
- Avoid being dismissive.
- Don’t judge them.
- Avoid putting pressure on them to talk.
- Never argue with them about their beliefs — it won’t help.
- Steer clear of fault and blame.
Advice for Helping a Person With a Mental Health Issue Like Schizophrenia
It’s common for people with schizophrenia to feel helpless, but supporting, loving and empowering family and friends can be super-helpful. Below are some tips for communicating and dealing with your loved one who has schizophrenia:
- Educate yourself.
- Set realistic expectations.
- Ensure they’re getting treatment and taking medication.
- Liaise with their doctor if you have any queries or concerns.
- Minimize stress in the home environment.
- Validate your loved one’s feelings.
- Remember the person and the mental illness are separate.
How Alta Loma Can Help You or a Loved One’s Mental Illness
People with schizophrenia tend to be detached from reality based on delusions or hallucinations of what they see or hear. It’s important not to judge or try to “fix” them but to encourage and validate them instead.
Educating yourself on what your loved one is going through will give you a better idea of how to speak to them. Remaining compassionate and showing empathy is essential.
At Alta Loma, we understand the importance of proper communication with someone who has schizophrenia, and we’re here to help you. Located in Georgetown, Texas, we can offer you individualized therapy, coping skills, education, medication management and more in a safe and tranquil environment. Call us at 866-457-3843 for more information.