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When we think of the major mental illnesses as biological disorders, it is important to remember that they are also influenced by environmental factors, and that symptoms can often be worsened by stress. If a person with a mental illness lives in a supportive environment, he or she may do better. Families can help in concrete ways, whether their relative lives with them or apart. These ways include creating structure; limiting stress; communicating in clear, direct ways; learning more about the mental health system and resources that are available in the community; and advocating for the relative.


Creating Structure


Limiting Stress


Communication Skillls


Dealing with Crises: Suicide, Violence, or Substance Abuse


Long-term Planning




Recognizing Relapse

Recognizing early warning signs of relapse into schizophrenia.