When people are diagnosed with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, finding effective medical and psychiatric care is the first priority. But once such treatment begins, they and their families soon discover that the illness affects many aspects of their lives, and they need more than medical help.
This section describes the kind of non-medical services that promote recovery and are available in many communities for people with severe and persistent mental illnesses and their families.
No single, coordinated system of services currently exists across the United States. When someone has been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, and if the individual is severely disabled, the person's family often assists in managing the person's comprehensive care. Although the service system is often fragmented, support groups of other families and people living with mental illnesses (often called consumers) who have faced the same challenges exist in every state. Never worry alone.
If you or someone you love has received a diagnosis of a serious mental illness, the information in this booklet can help you find and evaluate the services in your community, find others who are asking the same questions you are, and perhaps join those across the country who are working to create more coordinated and comprehensive services for people living with mental illnesses in every community.
Evan describes his recovery this way: "It took a while and waiting through the treatment failures was discouraging, but I feel good now, and I know how to stay feeling good."