A person that suffers a chronic mental disease is a strenuous test for the whole family. Especially when the role of medication is limited and one can never foresee what to expect the very next day. But a mother that has an ill child will hardly ever treat it as a burden. Schizophrenia/social anxiety disorder is a very serious challenge for the family because their support and understanding is of vital importance to the morbid person. The slightest change in their mood and behaviour may generate drastic changes in the clinical course. The ill person needs their 24-hour care and support in all the aspects of life: eating, going out, cleaning, shopping etc. This means not only physical help and support, the psychological atmosphere is even more important in this case. A person with social anxiety disorder needs special level of patience and stability. He or she is unable to tolerate the emotional outburst from others, especially from the closest people – the relatives.
The mother’s support is probably the most important one within the family and if she really wants to help her own child and secure her psychological stability, the mother will have to sacrifice her life and dedicate it to her child. The mental disease will most probably not disappear in years, so even if her daughter is no longer a child, her mothers support may be still needed.
The everyday life support in basic procedures of clothing, food consumption, shopping and studying is essential and the mother’s role is the primary one here. The girl will refer to her in any difficult situation and will certainly treat her as the closest person. This means the mother/daughter relationship should be based on complete mutual understanding and trust. Even if the child’s behaviour does not respond to her mother’s expectations, it is absolutely intolerable to criticise or punish the child. Mentally ill people are very sensitive and vulnerable, especially as to their closest people attitude. Negative emotional outburst will definitely result in loss of mutual understanding that is difficult to re-establish. Under such circumstances, the mother’s help and self-control is an initial condition of her daughter’s psychological stability and improvement. Though it is hardly possible to eliminate all the external factors (e.g. friends, co-students, strangers or media) that may influence the psychological condition of a mentally ill person, this influence should be controllable by the psychiatrist and the family. In the course of the illness there may be times, when the disease aggravates and the crisis takes place.
It is extremely important for the mother to be there the moment it happens and to take all the necessary steps to help her daughter. The social anxiety disease may be treated in several ways: by using medications that with ease the tension and the child’s depressed feelings or by psychologically helping to deal with fears and anxieties. In this case, when the medications have limited influence, the way out is obvious, the child is determined to be treated with the psychological support of her mother and the psychotherapist. The overwhelming fear and anxiety may be overcome by care and support. The child should never feel lonely because attention deficit is among the factors that produce additional anxieties.
The mother might find it difficult to cope with all the daughter’s daily needs and it might also be difficult to stay with the child all the time. It may be useful to find some kind of additional occupation for the mentally ill child. This may be any kind of art, for example drawing, poetry or fancy-work (some mentally ill people are unusually good in specific spheres of art). This occupation will not only help to express the feelings and overcome anxieties, it will also be useful in improving child’s self-esteem.
It is also very important to give the child a feeling of a strong family union, a backup she may always turn to when the problem occurs. Special attention should be paid to the questions the ill person asks and the spheres of life she is interested in. These observations may help the psychotherapist to reveal the troubles and fears the child is facing.
The mother and the other members of the family should try to organise everyday pastime and special weekends that will unite them and support the ill person. It does not mean the child should feel excessive attention, it means she should not feel lonely.
When the psychopharmacological management is not effective enough, there is no need to get upset. Maybe an ill person does not really need them. Medications influence the chemical processes within the human organism but they can not make a person feel confident and needed. Only the caring family can help the person overcome the illness.