Patient & Family Support

The course of mental illness varies broadly from person to person and family to family. From onset of symptoms to receiving a formal diagnosis and developing a treatment plan, this experience is stressful not only for the individual, but also for their loved ones. Engaging a patients’ support system is crucial for a mentally ill person to get better, perhaps especially true for youth and young adults experiencing a new episode of psychosis and during the transitions between inpatient and outpatient care. Despite its importance, we historically lacked designated support services for families challenged with caring for a loved one across the span of their illness.

Our Patient and Family Support services program researches, develops and provides evidence-based intervention and assistance across the entire course of care. Our teams of researchers and clinicians provide multifaceted support to patients, families and caregivers, including information on diagnosis, appropriate treatment modalities, medicolegal guidance, peer support and specialized navigator services. Our teams are constantly analyzing the care system and looking for opportunities to improve the process of care seeking and treatment. We aim to help patients and families make meaningful connections, learn skills, reduce isolation and improve outcomes. 

Based on collaboration with patients and families, our support services team seeks to close information gaps families experience as they navigate the mental health system. Our goal is to serve as a hub of resources families can readily discover to meet their information needs. Our resource hub is currently under development.

Our team of Mental Health Navigators offers specialized assistance to help connect patients and families to the right services at the right time through our patient and provider consultation programs. Through these programs, our Navigators are able to identify important gaps in care or challenges in coordinating services. This allows us to continuously improve our own services and advocate for improving mental health care throughout our community.

Receiving a diagnosis of a psychotic spectrum disorder can be stressful for the individual, but also for the family as a whole. Family engagement and understanding is a critical part of recovery. Frequently, however, family members are unsure how to support their loved one. Our SPIRIT Lab advocates for caregivers by connecting them with the practical resources, information, and skills necessary to prevent a loved one from falling through the cracks or losing hope. Learn more

Department faculty and staff are providing UW Medicine employees with free, informal, telephone or video-based conversations with one of our more than 50 volunteer clinician colleagues. The team is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to facilitate scheduling but conversations can occur outside these hours. Requests for support can be made online via the COVID Support Request Survey or by leaving a confidential voice mail message at 206-221-2768.