Someone close to you has been treated for an acute psychotic episode and has been told that they may have some form of severe mental illness or mental health difficulties. Alternatively, you may have been aware for some time that this person has been unwell and is not acting 'normally' or as you would expect a person of their age to act. You may even have come across books or articles about mental health and have seen mention of certain symptoms which are very similar to those that the person you know, such as a relative, have been displaying. This has probably left you shocked, even disbelieving, and in the early days alarmed and numb.
There are many frightening images and associations that many people hold about mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and if someone you know is in this situation, there are likely to be many questions rushing through your mind.
what does the diagnosis mean?
how do they know what is wrong?
what has caused the illness?
what is your relative going through?
what treatment is there?
can the illness be cured?
what do you say to other people?

If your relative is in hospital, you will need to know quite early on:

what are your relative's rights to care?
what can you do to ensure they have the best treatment and care?
what is likely to happen to them whilst in hospital?

Alternatively, if your relative has been detained in police custody you will need to know:

what are your relatives rights whilst in custody?
are there any ways of getting them referred to hospital?
can a Court appearance be postponed?

You may find yourself becoming angry about what has happened and about the treatment your loved one or friend is receiving. This is not at all unusual. It can be a relief to focus on doing something practical to tackle the problems you are experiencing. To help you through this, you need to be aware of what your rights are to be involved in the care and treatment of your relative and to get advice & support from people who understand the problems you are going through.

Information for carers

Much of the background information to the different mental illnesses and disorders, available treatments, rights and laws surrounding entitlement to care & treatment are covered in the 'About mental illness' and 'Living with mental illness' sections of this website. This section focuses on issues from the perspective of carers.
MindWise also produces factsheets on issues related to mental illness.
Many other factsheets and information on mental illnesses can also be found at


This web site would like to use cookies to store information on your computer, to improve our website. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set.

To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


EU Cookie Directive Module Information