People with Mental Illness and Heat Illness
Why worry about them when it is hot?
- Medications: Some medications used to treat mental illness, such as anti-psychotics, make it harder for the body to cool down.
- Housing: Many people with mental illnesses live in poor conditions and without air conditioning, making them more likely to have problems in heat.
- Impaired Judgment: Sometimes people with mental illness have trouble figuring out what they need to do to stay healthy and safe.
What to Do
- Keep cool, drink fluids, lie low
- Use air conditioning to keep cool.
- If you don't have air conditioning spend time in an air-conditioned place like a library, store, community center, cooling center, or restaurant. If you can't drive yourself, ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to take you.
- Talk with your doctor if you have questions about your medication and heat illness.
Tips for Caregivers, Family, and Neighbors
- Twice a day, check on people with mental illness, especially those taking anti-psychotic medications. Watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- Provide an air conditioner. If there is no air conditioner where they live, get the person to an air-conditioned place like a library, store, community center, cooling center, or restaurant.
- Make sure they have access to cool water – a bath, shower, or wet towels can help cool someone down.
- Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is hotter than the mid-90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
- Tell them to drink lots of water or other drinks without caffeine or alcohol even if they are not very active.
- Make sure their clothing is loose and lightweight.