What if treating psychosis had less to do with the person experiencing it and more to do with their environment? A program in Sweden has created a way to treat individuals struggling with psychosis and other serious mental health issues by placing them with volunteer families at farms throughout the country.
Family Care Foundation is a Swedish program that uses family life as a therapeutic setting in which participating adolescents, adults, and families in need of a home can experience support and stability while they recover. Surrounded by fresh air, animals to care for, and the daily routine of life on a farm, struggling patients find hope.
‘HEALING HOMES: Recovery from Psychosis without medication’, a documentary by filmmaker and former psychotherapist Daniel Mackler, takes a deeper look into this style of treatment. As the film explains, families taking part as hosts in the program were chosen not on their expertise of any psychological matters but for their “compassion and their desire to give back.”
Clients of the program are offered intensive psychotherapy for free while the farmers receive a small stipend for taking the patients into their homes. Rather than being prescribed a medication and sent home, the clients are embraced and treated as family, an approach that Family Care Foundation’s board members say creates a healing connection the clients need most.
One farmer described taking in a man with two young children whose wife had had a psychotic break. A refugee, the man spoke neither Swedish nor English, so communicating with him was difficult and led to numerous breakdowns. But the man and his children stayed at the farm for more than a year as he learned Swedish and got back on his feet.
“You be human,” the farmer said when asked how they dealt with taking in the man. “You don’t know how you’d feel if it was you in that situation, so you just be human.”
To learn more about this groundbreaking program, you can watch the documentary in its entirety at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JV4NTEp8S2Q.