There are a variety of resources available to people with a schizophrenia / schizoaffective disorder, but I have found that people are often not given much guidance as to what these resources are or how to access them. Often people tell me that they don’t even know what they or their family member will need. So I have compiled a brief summary of some of the more important resources for recovery. Please note some of these resources may not be available for those who live outside of Minnesota. Also, while I have tried to make sure all this information is updated and accurate, sometimes things change without my knowledge, please let me know if there are any errors in this list.
Getting yourself or your loved one the right treatment as soon as possible will minimize the illness’s impact. However, because of the nature of the illness, some people with schizophrenia don’t believe they have a problem and resist the treatment they need. The book “I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” by Xavier Amador gives some very useful advice on this subject.
Due to the list being so long, I have separated it into two parts. This first part lists more urgent needs, the second part will address resources a person will benefit from over the long term.
In this first list is information about psychiatrists, NAMI, Social Security Disability, medical insurance, mental health case managers, and crisis resources.
Psychiatrists: The vast majority of people with a schizophrenia disorder do much better on antipsychotic medications. Your family member will need to get connected with a psychiatrist for these medications. Keep in mind that there is a shortage of psychiatrists, so there may be long waits to get in to see one. If your family member is in crisis, take them to the ER. Sometimes family practice doctors will be willing to prescribe antipsychotic medications for a limited time while a client waits to get in to see a psychiatrist. Your best bet for finding a psychiatrist is through your family member’s insurance–call or look up online and ask for a referral.
NAMI: The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Minnesota is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families. NAMI Minnesota offers education, support and advocacy. NAMI Minnesota offers more than 500 free classes and presentations and over 60 support groups each year, and was recently recognized with prestigious national and state awards for its advocacy successes. I have heard many people say that the support groups and education classes offered have been of enormous help to them. There is a specific program called Transitions for education and support for young adults and their families, as well as a youth-specific website. Contact Andrea Lee for the youth program at 651.645.2948 ext. 106, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or for general classes or support groups, go to namihelps.org or call 651-645-2948.
I highly recommend the NAMI resources, and encourage all of my clients and their families to get in touch with them.
Social Security Disability benefits: Many people with a schizophrenia disorder will not be able to work full time. If this is the case for you or your family member, it’s probably a good idea to apply for disability benefits to get some financial help. Keep in mind that these benefits can be cancelled at any time if your ability to work improves enough that you no longer need them. There are two general types of disability benefits, SSI and SSDI. If you have worked a certain number of hours, you’ll qualify for SSDI, if not, you’ll qualify for SSI. But you don’t have to worry about which one you qualify for, they can figure that out for you. To apply for disability benefits, go to the government online application or call 1-800-772-1213. (A smaller number of people may qualify for a program called RSDI, see here for a further explanation.)
Sometimes people’s first application will be denied and they need some extra legal help in getting the right information in their application. If you are denied, call a law firm that deals with these issues. There are some that do pro bono or sliding-scale fees, such as Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (651-222-4731).
Medical Insurance–Medicare, MinnesotaCare, and Medical Assistance (MA): It is vital that people with a schizophrenia disorder have some sort of health insurance. If they are not working due to their illness and aren’t on a family member’s plan, they are likely eligible for Medicare, MInnesotaCare, and/or Medical Assistance, which is Minnesota’s Medicaid program. Apply for Medicare through their online application here, MinnesotaCare here, and apply for MA through their online application here.
Mental health case managers: Case managers are trained people, usually social workers, who are very familiar with the “system,” in that they know the ins and outs of how to get clients certain services and benefits. To apply depends on the county that the client lives in:
- Anoka County: call 763-422-7326 or 763-422-3283
- Carver County: call 952 442-4437
- Dakota County: call 651-554-6000 or 651-554-6424
- Hennepin County: Call Front Door Access at 612-348-4111
- Isanti County: a provider (therapist, psychiatrist, etc) can call 763-689-1711 for a referral
- Ramsey County: call 651-266-7890
- Scott County: call 952-445-7751
- Washington County: call 651-430-6484.
Sometimes a person with a schizophrenia disorder will experience symptoms getting out of control, and often they are not able to get in to see a psychiatrist the same day. If a person seems overwhelmed by symptoms, seems at a point that they might harm themselves (or others), or if they are not able to care for themselves due to symptoms, they are in crisis. There are several options if someone is in crisis. They can always call 911 or go the Emergency Room of their preferred hospital, they will be assessed and possibly admitted to the psychiatric unit of that hospital.
If it doesn’t seem like the person needs hospitalization, you could call a crisis service. One such services is Crisis Connection: 612-379-6363 or 1-866-379-6363, from any location. Alternatively, you could use this online crisis resource locator.
The following is a list of crisis numbers for counties in and around the Twin Cities:
- Anoka County-Mental Health Crisis Outreach-763-755-3801
- Carver County- Mental Health Crisis Program, available 24-7, provides both phone assessments and on-site crisis management. 952-442-7601
- Chisago County – Crisis Line 1-800-523-3333
- Dakota County Crisis Response Unit at 952-891-7171, which provides 24-hour telephone or on-site response
- Hennepin County Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies (C.O.P.E) To reach our mobile team, call 612-596-1223, available 24-7.
- Isanti County- Crisis Line 1-800-523-3333
- Mille Lacs County – Crisis Line 1-800-523-3333
- Ramsey County, 24/7 Crisis Hotline 651-266-7900. Also, with more limited hours, Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health. Walk-in crisis services at 402 East University Avenue, St Paul, MN 55130, M-F 8am-7pm, Sat 11am-3pm.
- Scott County– Mental Health Crisis Program, available 24-7, provides both phone assessments and on-site crisis management. 952-442-7601
- Washington County-crisis outreach at 651-777-5222
If you live outside the Twin Cities area, here is a list of crisis numbers, listed by the county that the person in crisis lives in.
Also see Resources Part 2, which covers information on therapists, home health nurses, CADI waivers, ARMHS workers, housing, vocational training, and community support programs.