VA Mental Health – Health Care Providers Treating Schizophrenia
Health Care Provider
Advances in both medication and psychosocial (nonmedication) treatments have led to better outcomes for individuals who develop schizophrenia and related mental health conditions. As with most mental health conditions, a combination of medications and psychosocial support and psychotherapy offer the best opportunity for reducing symptoms and regaining prior levels of functioning.
Resources To Share With Veterans
Medications play a crucial role in the treatment of schizophrenia and related conditions. Responses to medications vary. Some individuals experience total or near total resolution of symptoms, and some notice smaller effects. For most individuals, symptoms are improved but are still present to some extent. Ongoing treatment with medications has been shown to provide the best protection from relapse of symptoms.
In addition to medications, psychosocial treatments play a key role in the treatment of schizophrenia. These treatments help individuals to develop skills and supports needed to be successful in their daily lives and help with symptoms that remain after treatment with medications. VA provides the following psychosocial treatments:
- Assertive Community Treatment: Assertive community treatment helps people with serious mental illnesses access regular treatment by clinicians who visit clients in the home or in their local community. This treatment has been shown to decrease the number of hospitalizations and help people live independently and remain employed. VA offers a version of assertive community treatment that has been modified for the VA health system known as Intensive Community Mental Health Recovery (ICMHR) Services.
- Supported Employment: Supported employment, specifically the individual placement and support model, helps individuals with serious mental illnesses find and keep jobs. Compared with other patients, those who have received these services more often found jobs, worked more hours, were employed longer, and earned more money.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT helps people understand relationships among their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and learn new patterns of thinking to support positive feelings.
- Illness Management and Recovery (IMR): IMR helps those with serious mental illnesses set meaningful goals and learn skills to support their mental health and recovery.
- Social Skills Testing (SST): SST was developed to help Veterans learn effective social skills that aid in their recovery. SST includes education, breaking skills down into simple steps, modeling, role-playing, and group support.
In Veterans' Own Words
Clinicians can use Make the Connection as a tool to engage with Veterans or their family members who may be reluctant to seek support.