Living Through A Pandemic With Schizophrenia

Daily Record|June 2, 2020

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Living Through A Pandemic With Schizophrenia
The current crisis is creating real difficulties for those trying to keep people with complex mental health needs safe, as one woman discovered while caring for her elderly and vulnerable mother...

For people with mental health problems, a global pandemic is their worst nightmares come true.

So it was no surprise when my mother, who has paranoid schizophrenia, had a massive relapse.

Mum seemed to be coping well in the early weeks of coronavirus. She understood we needed to be careful. She followed the advice for over-70s and stopped going out. She tried to keep busy, as we all did. And then, bang, she became extremely unwell, almost overnight.

One of the first indications I get that mum is ill again is when the police ring. They call me out of a duty of care because there is a mental health “marker” against her address. They tell me she has been reporting break-ins, stalkers, menacing gangs, threats to kill.

I often wake up to a string of voice messages on my mobile because mum rings the police through the night. They become her number one care provider and the trained call handlers working those long shifts are excellent at managing her distress.

Only this time, they are managing what is fast becoming the unseen epidemic in all of this crisis – a surge in calls from people, particularly older people, with mental health problems.

One operator told me: “We’re getting far fewer reports of actual break-ins and far more calls from people like your mum.”

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June 2, 2020