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Schizophrenia Treatment - Housing and Self-Help Options

Rashmi Nemade, Ph.D. & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Housing

homeless older man Another vital therapy for people with schizophrenia is assistance with housing. When people are in the middle of a psychotic episode (having hallucinations or delusions), they become disoriented and unable to care for themselves. They are unable to do any kind of responsible activity such as working or paying rent. Many people end up unemployed or very minimally employed. They often rely in full or in part on government sponsored disability payments for income. There may also become involved in substance abuse as they interact with other people who abuse drugs or alcohol. The result is that some people become very disabled and need assistance with housing or they may become homeless quickly.

The large numbers of homeless people with mental illness in any major city, many of whom have schizophrenia, show the extent of this problem. Different communities address this need for safe humane housing for the chronically mentally ill in different ways with varying levels of success. Social workers and case managers working at city and community mental health centers help people find and keep their housing. Access to safe housing is a basic need of any people with schizophrenia. Without it, their illness will become worse.

Self-Help Options

Once symptoms have been stabilized, people with schizophrenia can benefit from self-help efforts. Becoming part of a mental health self-help group for people with schizophrenia is a good option for many. These groups are frequently organized through local community mental health centers. Groups provide an opportunity for positive, mutual support to people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or related disorders. Often a mental health professional can direct a patient toward a self-help group.

Some networks of groups are also online. Hearing Voices Network is a self-help organization for people who hear voices. It was founded by five mental health workers, but has since somewhat distanced itself from the psychiatric profession through its alternative philosophy. The Paranoia Network is a similar self-help organization in the United Kingdom. There are also online-only community forums such as those provided by Schizophrenia.Com.