Taking Action, Getting Help
More than a decade of research around the world has shown that early intervention can often minimize or delay symptoms, prevent hospitalization and improve prognosis. Even if a person does not yet show clear signs of a diagnosable mental illness, these “red flag” early warning symptoms can be frightening and disruptive.
Encourage the person to:
- Have an evaluation by a mental health or other health care professional.
- Learn about mental illness, including signs and symptoms.
- Receive supportive counseling about daily life and strategies for stress management.
- Be monitored closely for conditions requiring more intensive care.
Each individual’s situation must be assessed carefully and treatment should be individualized. Comprehensive treatment to prevent early symptoms from progressing into serious illness can include ongoing individual and family counseling, vocational and educational support, participation in a multi-family problem-solving group, and medication when appropriate.
Family members are valued partners and should be involved whenever possible. Learning about mental illness and what is happening in the brain can help individuals and families understand the significance of symptoms, how an illness might develop and what can be done to help.
Just as with other medical illnesses, early intervention can make a crucial difference in preventing what could become a serious illness.