Supporting someone who lives with mental illness can be challenging, but there is a great deal you can do to help on a practical level, whether you live nearby or—as Fran and I do—on opposite sides of the globe.
Something I am able to do for Fran on a regular basis is write a Status Report for her to take to appointments with her psychiatrist and care coordinator (case manager).
This helps Fran because she often finds it difficult to recall details, especially if she has been fatigued or depressed. She also values having another person’s perspective. She sometimes asks other friends to offer their impressions of how well—or otherwise—she is doing, but I am best placed to provide an ongoing perspective, because we are in touch on a daily basis.
I welcome the opportunity to contribute to her care and support team. They value my input as someone who knows Fran well and can provide additional input.
I prefer to write my report on the day of her appointment. I start from her current status, as I see it, but also refer back over the period (usually between two and four weeks) since her last appointment.
There is no set structure, but I generally bullet point my comments and observations under the following headings.
A snapshot of what is going on for Fran at the time, listing any key events, successes, or concerns.
In this section I focus on Fran’s levels of fatigue and pain, how she has been sleeping (insomnia can have a major effect on her other symptoms), and any other physical symptoms she has experienced recently.
Fran’s general emotional state, for example whether she has been feeling flat, irritated, frustrated, or angry; or positive, motivated, and engaged.
Here I note any red flag behaviours we have detected which might suggest she is slipping into either mania or depression; also whether suicidal thinking has been as issue recently.
People and Connections
Relationships are important to Fran, and a good indicator as to how she is doing generally. I list any significant positive or negative experiences she has had with friends or other people recently (whether locally or online), inviting Fran to explore these further during the appointment.
Anything that seems relevant which I have not mentioned elsewhere, including projects Fran might be working on, upcoming trips or challenges.
Have you ever considered or been asked to write a Status Report for your friend or loved one? Would you be interested in doing so? We would love to hear you thoughts.