Family Education and management of Schizophrenia
Thos whose lives have been touched with schizophrenia have a much better chance for a tolerable life now than they may have had not so many years ago. Current medical advances in psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, social skills training, cognitive rehabilitation skills training, and family education and management have all play key roles in this evolution.
I would like to focus on the later, family education and management in the treatment of schizophrenia. Many of our incarcerated individuals have no family to go back to once they are released from the system. These folks need help with managing their medications; they need help with recognizing psychotic behavioral pattern and how to deal with them when there is no one else around for help. How do we get these folks into, "socially supportive" counseling sessions? Yes we can give them videotapes and lectures to help them explain their illness; but its behavioral management that provides the practical help for families and ultimately the patients themselves.
Multiple family member groups seem to be more supportive because family members tend to speak more freely to each other than to therapists. If we can help the incarcerated get into focus groups that are tailored more like family group therapy this may help. I think this could easily be accomplished through social programs like the third level crisis center right here in Traverse City. In 1979 many families with patients suffering from schizophrenia joined together and established the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). Today this group is composed of more than 30,000 families. I have included the local link the Michigan chapter of NAMI (http://mi.nami.org/).