When a person has a mental illness, family members often play an important role in helping them with their medication. By reminding them to take medications, helping them develop a medication schedule and ensuring prescriptions are filled, family members can help their loved one take their medications as prescribed. Family members can also alert their loved one’s medical professional if they notice concerning side-effects or if there might be indicators that their loved one has stopped taking their medication or if their medication is not working.
To provide the best support, it is helpful for family members to learn as much as possible about the medication(s) prescribed. Questions for family members to ask their loved one’s medical professional include:
• How is the medication taken?
• What is the dosage and how often should it be taken?
• How long will it take to work?
• What are the potential side-effects?
• How is the medication monitored?
• Are blood tests needed?
• How can side-effects be minimized?
• Are there any dietary restrictions relating to the use of this medication?
• What symptoms indicate that the dosage/type of medication should be changed?
• Where can I go for more information?
B.C. Schizophrenia Society provides a document which outlines some basic information about antipsychotic medications used to treat schizophrenia and psychosis. This document is updated every couple years and the July 2018 updated version is available here.
If family members have concerns about the medications their loved one is taking, they should discuss them with the medical professional involved in their care. There may be other options, however it is important to remember that medications can take time to start working and that what works for one person may not work for someone else.