Even today, it’s hard for medical institutions and doctors to piece together a medical record. So it can be helpful to create your own medical treatment record for your loved one with mental illness. That way you have something ready when you need to provide information.
The excellent book “When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness” by Rebecca Woolis suggests that your record contain information about:
- Your loved one’s level of functioning before becoming ill.
- Highest level of school attained
- Work history
- Level of basic life skills (cooking, cleaning, money management, experience with independent living)
- Social skills and relationships with peers
- Significant achievements
- Their symptoms.
- What they are
- When they began
- Worst episodes with dates
- Most effective treatment so far
- Treatment history.
- Dates of psychiatric hospitalizations
- Types of medication used and their effectiveness (with dates if possible)
- Types of therapy used and their effectiveness (with dates if possible)
- Your loved one’s level of functioning between hospitalizations and treatments.
- The names, addresses, phone numbers and emails of all members of the treatment team (psychiatrist, therapist, social worker or case manager).
- Medical insurance information.
When you are dealing with mental health professionals, you want to appear credible. You make the best impression when you are courteous and respectful of their time. Try to understand that these professionals are under constraints such as:
- Not being able to be effective with those who refuse treatment.
- A heavy caseload.
- Lack of adequate funding.
- HIPPA and other confidentiality regulations.
Even if the illness is decades long, try to go back through your documentation to create a medical record. It will probably be more helpful than the record that the treatment team has.