Metropolitan St. Louis Psychiatric Center
St. Louis, Missouri
Family education is now considered an essential component of any comprehensive treatment program for patients with schizophrenia. This chapter describes how one hospital, Metropolitan St. Louis Psychiatric Center (MSLPC), developed a family education program, its reasons for doing so, and the results that were obtained. It is my hope that by following the suggestions in this chapter you will easily be able to develop an education program for your setting.
MSLPC considers families a vital resource in the treatment and rehabilitation of severely mentally ill persons. Families are often the only support system available to the ill person. The stress and burden of caring for a mentally ill relative can be enormous and have devastating effects on families. It is extremely difficult-sometimes impossible-to meet the many needs and demands of the ill person. It adds to the stress when family members have little or no understanding of mental illness, or believe they may have contributed to their relative's developing the illness.
As noted, families may feel guilt and blame themselves for having a mentally ill relative. To manage the situation, families need to muster all the skills and knowledge currently available. Many families new to