*****FROM ABC NEWS MEDICAL UNIT*****
Hi judybleu and thank you for your question. Here is an answer from Joel Feiner, M.D., Professor of psychiatry, UT Southwestern:
First what to do next depends upon the resources available in the community in which you live. You might find out through the local National Alliance for Mental Illness Chapter (NAMI) about whether any programs are RECOVERY oriented. That would mean that there would be a greater focus upon your son as a person and less on the symptoms alone. He is on good medications (although weight gain may become a problem to him). Now it is time to develop quality of life through psychosocial rehabilitation which will help to enhance his ability to FUNCTION in his living independently, working, learning, and socializing. There are specialists who know how to apply manualized training to enhance these FUNCTIONS. Next, whichever service provider relates best to him should find out his goals for his life and without judging them, develop stepwise plans to remover the obstacles. Nobody should tell him how to lead his life but only interact around removing the obstacles. If there is a Supported Employment program, they should accept him if he can answer 1 question, "Do you want to work?" If he says yes, they will help him to find work in areas in which he has interest, experience. No one should say "He’s not ready" or "Maybe he should volunteer." We help him to begin to have more partnership in his treatment, he also reserves the right to fail at work and keep trying until he gets it. There should also be a coach who works with him on the job. He should find groups of peers,, i.e. others who have been through the desperate problems of mental illness and have come through and are working on their own recovery. Only they can truly understand what it has been like for your son. If there is anyone doing Wellness Recovery Action Training (W.R.A.P.) he should be encouraged to take the training so he will be able to understand his illness better, his strengths, how to remain stable etc. (See Mary Ellen Copeland.com) Obviously this requires a team which should include you and your son. A single psychiatrist cannot do all that the field has available. It might also require a well-trained therapist. You AND he should know as much as possible about his condition and about his medication. We are working tow his being a "Partner rather than a Patient. If possible, competent professionals should take on more of the therapy, case management etc. so you can be his mother and not occupy all the other roles. Try to respect his choices as long as they are not illegal. Talk with him about things other than his symptoms and illness related matters, e.g. Sports, music, politics.. If you haven’t yet, join NAMI ASAP and try to take their Family to Family Course. What I have described is called the Recovery movement, not about cure but about restoring meaning and purpose to lives of persons with major mental illness. Federal Government and States are trying to blanket the country with these broad based changes in attitudes and practice. Sometimes public programs address these issues much more comprehensively than private practitioners. I hope this helps. It can be a truly brutal and isolating experience to be the parent of a mentally ill child and no one can really understand it or even advise what helps better than other parents.