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For Families

  • Acknowledge that having a loved one with a brain disorder is a difficult experience.
  • Realize that treatment can take time to be effective. Counseling is an ongoing process, and medications can take a while to influence a person’s nervous system.
  • Be gentle with yourself and your loved one. You will have good days and bad days.
  • Know that your loved one’s behaviors are symptoms of an illness, not purposeful attempts to make life difficult.
  • Encourage thorough communication between your family and your psychiatrist. A doctor relies on observations from loved ones to know how a patient is functioning in daily life.
  • Make time for yourself!!
  • Teach the family member with mental illness as much as possible about his or her illness.
  • Keep a daily schedule that is consistent with a healthy lifestyle.
  • Try to make time for fun activities with all family members.
  • Work together as a family for cooperation and empathy.

For Teachers

  • Remove feelings of blame. Try to realize that parents may feel responsible for their child’s disorder. It can be helpful to offer direct comments that let parents know you sympathize with their stress.
  • Acknowledge denial and anger as normal. People in crisis usually react with initial fear and anxiety. Assure families that anyone facing a difficult situation would react similarly.
  • Communicate empathy and compassion to parents. An accepting attitude can make all the difference.
  • Battle stigma in the classroom by educating the entire class about mental illness. After all, it is very likely that more than one student may experience emotional problems during childhood.
  • Promote early intervention and treatment. The earlier a diagnosis is made the more time doctors have to find appropriate treatments. Intervening early will assure the child the best possible chances for recovery.
  • Take a child’s condition into consideration when planning academic lessons and testing.
  • Provide community resource information to interested caregivers.
  • Advocate for your students!!
  • Do not allow a child’s dream to be smothered because he or she suffers from a brain disorder. Support and encourage the child and the family during the long road to recovery.

For Consumers

Five Things You Can Do to Support Your Recovery

Source: Choices in Recovery, Janssen, 2010 Vol 7 Issue 2

1. Reassess your life goals: be willing. Decide what you need to do to get closer to your own life goals. Think about how to start. What is a step that you could make toward meeting your own life goals? If you want to have more to do, think about what kinds of activities you could start doing. Make a list of what you used to like to do, or what you would like to do now.

2. Determine the role of medication in your recovery. What do you want the medication to do? Is it doing this? Is it causing problems or side effects? Discuss this with your doctor. Medication is a tool that can help many people manage the symptoms of serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia. Taking your medication consistently, every day, makes it more likely to be effective.

3. Exercise and diet are an important part of staying healthy. Discuss the importance of diet and exercise with your doctor and work together to find a plan that is appropriate for you.

4. Attend a support group. You are not alone. Support groups such as NAMI’s Peer-to-Peer and Family-to-Family programs offer forums for people with serious mental illness and their family members to learn more about the illnesses and gain valuable coping mechanisms from one another.

5. Create something. Access your inner artist. Keep a journal, write a poem or paint a picture. The creative process of artistic self-expression may help reduce stress, build self-esteem and awareness and help you gain new insight.

Create a Crisis Plan

Source: (Wellness Recovery Action Plan – Crisis Plan link) It became very clear to me in compiling the data from the study that those people who personally take responsibility for their own wellness achieve the highest levels of stability, the highest levels of wellness, control over their own lives, and happiness. -WRAP Facilitator

Complete all the following statements, make copies of the document, sign each copy, and have someone you trust sign it as a witness as well. You may also choose to provide a copy to your attorney and/or your doctor or social worker.

  • When I am feeling well, I am (describe yourself when you are feeling well):
  • The following signs indicate that I am no longer able to make decisions for myself, that I am no longer able to be responsible for myself or to make appropriate decisions.
  • When I clearly have some of the above signs, I want the following people to make decisions for me, see that I get appropriate treatment and to give me care and support:
  • I do not want the following people involved in any way in my care or treatment. List names and (optionally) why you do not want them involved:
  • Preferred medications and why:
  • Acceptable medications and why:
  • Unacceptable medications and why:
  • Acceptable treatments and why:
  • Unacceptable treatments and why:
  • Home/Community Care/Respite Options:
  • Preferred treatment facilities and why:
  • Unacceptable treatment facilities and why:
  • What I want from my supporters when I am feeling this badly:
  • What I don’t want from my supporters when I am feeling this badly:
  • What I want my supporters to do if I’m a danger to myself or others:
  • Things I need others to do for me and who I want to do it:
  • How I want disagreements between my supporters settled:
  • Things I can do for myself:
  • Indicators that supporters no longer need to use this plan:
  • I developed this document myself with the help and support of:
Signed: Date:
Attorney: Date:
Witness: Date:
Witness: Date:

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