3. Supporting your family member’s recovery

Understanding confidentiality

Sometimes a person does not want their family involved in their treatment. Confidentiality laws aim to develop trust between a health care provider and the person in treatment. These laws are grounded in the belief that the person in treatment can make good decisions about what is best for them. Unfortunately, symptoms of psychosis can confuse a person’s thinking. For example, they may be suspicious of their relatives. Although an ideal treatment plan is based on open sharing of relevant information with concerned family members, a health care provider will not be able to share specific information about your relative if your relative has not given consent. If they choose not to have you involved in their care, a health care professional will not be able to reveal privileged clinical information to you. However, you have a right to receive general information about services, treatment programs, medication, education, support and counselling, which will not violate your relative’s confidentiality.

Most programs now have a family-inclusive philosophy and prefer to include family, friends and other supporters in care. If your relative has refused to allow a health care provider to speak to you, know that the health care provider will continue to encourage your relative to include you, and will revisit the issue as their symptoms improve. It is important to be aware that this can be a challenge and a dilemma for health care providers.