Frequently Asked Questions
How do I explain what is happening to other family members, friends and my loved one?
With openness and honesty. It is important that everybody who maintains a relationship with the person with the mental illness share their concerns with those around them. Explaining what mental illness is and how it manifests in everyday life will help relieve the tension we feel when faced with the unknown. It is important to remember that the person affected will grow over the course of the illness, as will the people around them, so it is important to avoid labelling.
Family members can also share their distress, worries and feelings of helplessness. A burden shared is always lighter! Your loved one is still part of the family unit and may share the same concerns. The more information you have, the less overwhelmed you will feel by the illness.
I feel powerless or isolated from the medical network. Where can I find help?
Health professionals are bound by confidentiality laws that do not allow them to disclose certain information about their patients. So, it is not surprising that you feel powerless or isolated from the system the difficulties your loved one is experiencing.
The best way to find answers to your questions is to contact the family service organizations in your area. There you will find an attentive ear and a range of services adapted to your needs.
When my loved one was hospitalized, the care team questioned me at length. Since then, I have not received any information, and I don't want to intrude on their privacy. What should I do?
During the first hospitalization of an “adult” loved one, you must clarify your need for information with them in order to effectively assist them. The care team is bound by confidentiality rules that do not allow for the disclosure of information without your loved one’s permission.
First, the team will try to obtain as much information as possible to establish a profile of the illness. Then, they will observe your loved one for several days to identify symptoms of the illness and attempt to treat them. This observation period may seem long when you are waiting for answers, but given the consequences associated with a diagnosis, it is better to take all the time necessary. During hospitalization, you can identify key members of your loved one’s care team and establish a connection with one or two of them. When possible, address your questions to the same care team member to avoid any misunderstandings. The information you need to accompany your loved one is not an attack on their privacy, but rather a tool to help you assist them more effectively.
The care team has approved my loved one's discharge. They have instructed me to make sure they take their medication, while avoiding being overprotective. How do I do that?
Discharge from the hospital is often one of the most difficult times for your loved one. Hospitalization often happens under very stressful conditions, and your loved one may still be shaken by the experience.
This requires some vigilance the first few days, but you don’t have to police them. Your loved one is an adult and, therefore, they must also take care of themselves. Now is a good time to define your expectations regarding the challenges identified prior to hospitalization, such as any drug or alcohol use, meal and sleeping schedules as well as personal hygiene.