The following are common questions raised at The Royal Family Information and Support Groups:
Psychosis is a break from reality. People with psychosis can experience delusions and/or hallucinations. Delusions involve beliefs that are typically not endorsed by other people within the person’s culture. For instance, a person may believe that they are being spied on by other people when there is no evidence to support this belief. Some types of psychosis can begin with a bit of truth, so sometimes it can be difficult for families to pick up on it when it first presents. People with psychosis can also have hallucinations—hearing things (e.g., voices) that other people do not hear, seeing things that other people do not see, or feeling sensations that do not appear real.
Just like many of the illnesses that affect our quality of life (arthritis, high blood pressure) tend to be chronic, we currently believe that people who have experienced anxiety or mood disorders continue to be vulnerable to future episodes of anxiety or depression. It is important to keep in mind that people who have chronic illnesses such as arthritis or high blood pressure can have good quality of life by managing their illness through use of medication and lifestyle changes. Similarly, people who have had anxiety or mood disorders can have good quality of life through use of medication, psychotherapy and lifestyle changes.
We cannot make or convince anyone believe to accept or believe that they have a mental illness. The best thing caregivers can do is to gather support for themselves and learn more coping skills for loving supporting someone with a mental health challenges and lack of awareness.
This is a challenge faced by a number of families. It is important to know that no one can make another take their medication; however you can encourage them by validating their feelings, thoughts, and beliefs about the side effects of medication and how it affects their sense of self.
When a loved one stops taking medication it can be difficult for caregivers as you see a change in their functioning. Please remember that you cannot make them take their medication. You can inform their mental health professionals and/or family doctor. If you have set a boundary with them regarding their medication you will need to follow through with the consequence you set with them. Keep a record of changes in behaviour to provide to a health care provider.
There is a program called Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB), from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. This program applies to those who are over age 65, under age 25, receiving home care, living in a long term care home or Homes for Special Care, or receiving government assistance (ODSP or Ontario Works). You can apply for the program through Service Ontario (online or in-person).
There is also a program called the Ontario Trillium Drug Program. This program is run through the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. You can apply for this program if you have a valid health card. It is a program that provides assistance to medication costs when the costs of the medication(s) are high relative to your income. You can apply for the program through Service Ontario (online or in-person). If you are having concerns about the cost of your medications speak with your pharmacist. Your pharmacist may be able to provide more information on the programs noted above or provide other suggestions that may reduce the cost of your medications.
The family doctor can refer your loved one to a psychiatrist. You can request that the family doctor refer them to a psychiatrist even if the family doctor cannot give you any information. This is challenging in the current climate of wait times and limited resources and at the same time, it is important to try.
Yes, family members are allowed to provide and encouraged to provide any relevant information to the doctor. Please note that confidentiality does not prevent the doctor from offering helpful information in a general way.
When you give information to the doctor we encourage you to have the information written down and speak plainly about the most important specific facts such as “I think that my loved one is not taking prescribed medication” or “has not bathed in three weeks, and has not left their room in two months”. A health care professional may not be able to discuss the loved one’s case specifically, but is allowed to help you greatly by answering questions in more general terms that do not break confidentiality.
You can access affordable housing through The Social Housing Registry; however the wait list can be 3-5 years. There are also housing options through the City of Ottawa Residential Services. These are group homes for adults with persistent mental health challenges and can be reached by calling 211.
For those who have a loved one with BPD, please look into the Ottawa Network for BPD. For counselling on a sliding scale, please refer to the list of services below that includes organizations that offer counselling on a sliding fee scale. Family caregivers are encouraged to seek help for themselves even when their loved one may not.
There are several free resources in the community and others that offer services for a sliding fee scale. Walk-In Counselling Services are located in many of the Community Health Centres. Family Services Ottawa, Jewish Family Services, and St. Paul’s University all offer services on a sliding fee scale. Youth Services Bureau offers counselling services for those ages 12-18. Family caregivers are strongly encouraged to look for support for themselves.
To receive updates and information for family caregivers, please email Juliet Haynes, Regional Family Support Program Coordinator.