How can I get help/support for schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder?
Note: NAMI volunteers are not medical or mental health professionals, and we cannot offer medical or mental health advice. The material outlined below is informational and we hope that it helps provide guidance toward getting support.
You may wish to consult our website’s Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia pages where you will find information on the disorders, current treatments, ways to support recovery, and links to NAMI Discussion Groups that focus on topics related to the conditions(create a NAMI.org account to participate in NAMI discussion groups).
The resources below may be of help:
- NAMI Peer-to-Peer Classes are a free, eight-session educational program for adults with mental health conditions who are looking to better understand themselves and their recovery. Taught by trained leaders with lived experience, this program includes activities, discussions and informative videos. Find a Peer-to-Peer course near you via your local NAMI Affiliate.
- NAMI Family-to-Family Classes are for families, significant others and friends of people with mental health conditions. Designated as an evidence-based program by SAMHSA, this program facilitates a better understanding of mental health conditions, increases coping skills and empowers participants to become advocates for their family members. Also available in Spanish, De Familia a Familia de NAMI. Find a Family-to-Family course class near you via your local NAMI Affiliate.
- NAMI Connection Support Group is a peer support group for people with mental health conditions. Groups meet weekly, every other week or monthly, depending on location. This program is also available at certain NAMI affiliates in Spanish, as NAMI Conexión. Find a NAMI Connection Support Group near you via your local NAMI Affiliate.
- NAMI Family Support Group is a support group for family members, significant others and friends of people with mental health conditions. Groups meet weekly, every other week or monthly, depending on location. Find a NAMI Family Support Group near you via your local NAMI Affiliate.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Psychosis (CBTp) is an evidence-based, structured form of talk therapy for individuals who experience distress related to psychotic symptoms. CBTp was developed as an individual treatment, and later as a group-based intervention, to reduce the psychosis-related distress and improve functioning. To learn more, visit:
- Schizophrenia & Psychosis Action Alliance (S&PAA) advocates for system change to improve care, support, and equity for people living with schizophrenia and psychosis spectrum disorders. S&PAA provides information, toolkits, videos and support groups for people living with the conditions and their caregivers/allies.
- Schizophrenia.com also provides information and online discussion forums for individuals and caregivers affected by schizophrenia and related disorders.
- Hearing Voices Network is a peer-support organization for people who hear voices, see visions or have other extreme experiences. Visit their website to learn more about support group locations.
- You may wish to read the book, Surviving Schizophrenia, 7th Edition, by E. Fuller Torrey, which has become the standard reference/handbook book on the disorder. In clear language, the book describes the nature, causes, symptoms, treatment, and course of schizophrenia. It also explores living with the disease from both the patient and the family's point of view, and how to advocate on behalf of a loved one living with the disorder. The book can be purchased through online booksellers.
- SMI Adviser Tool is an initiative by the American Psychiatric Association and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to advance a person-centered approach to care that ensures people living with serious mental illness find treatment and support. Visit their website for information about mental illness, treatment options, support systems, crisis resources and more.
How Can I Get My Loved One to Realize They Need Help?
Often an individual living with a mental health diagnosis – particularly one that involves a serious mental health condition (or one complicated by substance use disorder) – may experience Anosognosia [Ann-knows-egg-NOSE-yuh], a neurological condition that can accompany serious mental illness. Anosognosia affects an individual’s ability to recognize that they have a mental illness. This is especially troubling for families and friends who are often responsible for providing care for their loved one.
To learn techniques for communicating with your loved, and to help them agree to partner in their recovery, we would recommend reading I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help!, a book by Dr. Xavier Amador - a psychologist whose experiences with his own family demonstrated how challenging this phenomenon could be. In his book, Dr. Amador describes Anosognosia and outlines strategies for communicating with a loved one to help them work toward recovery. Portions of the book are accessible to the public on our website here; the book is available in English and Spanish for purchase at online booksellers.
A broader discussion of the strategies of Dr. Amador’s LEAP method, including videos on how to apply the LEAP method, are available for public access here.