Info for Family & Friends

Do you know of a friend, or family member, who is experiencing the symptoms of psychosis? If so, it’s important to get them help as soon as possible. If the symptoms are acute, go to the emergency room; otherwise, a family physician will be able to recommend a psychiatrist and other resources that are available.

Although it can be challenging to help someone who is going through psychosis, stay positive. Your support will help in the recovery process and know that there are resources available that will help you cope too.

Safety & Emergency Situations

If the person you are trying to help is talking about suicide or self-harm, take them seriously, stay calm and listen to the person’s concerns. Help them reduce any stressors that may be adding to their depression and notify a mental health professional if the suicidal ideas persist.

In an emergency or life-threatening situation, you must ensure that the individual gets professional help immediately. Accompany the individual to the appropriate service or call emergency resources such as your local hospital emergency department or crisis program.

How Can I Cope As A Caregiver Or Friend?

It’s natural to feel shock, fear, sadness, anger, frustration or despair when helping someone through psychosis treatment, but know that there is help for you too as you navigate through this new and stressful territory.

Supporting someone with mental illness is a long-term commitment, which may involve set-backs that span over months or several years. And although you’ll need to be prepared for that, know that most people make a successful recovery from a first episode of psychosis.

Remember that you’ll also need a period of recovery and time to understand and accept what has happened. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up. Talking with friends, or a professional, can be very helpful and help you remain positive.

How Can I Help?

Provide hope and reassurance. Let the person know that help is available and that things can get better. Point out that seeking help is a sign of strength rather than a sign of weakness or failure.

The person will likely feel relieved that there is help available; however, there may be situations where getting the person to agree to seek help may involve some coaxing. Some of the barriers that prevent individuals from getting help can include the person’s inability to see that something is wrong, their fear of appearing strange or abnormal, or dealing with the stigma associated with mental illness.

Preparing the person for what they might expect will help them overcome these fears. Share your knowledge about psychosis and that help that is available. Let them know that your decision to seek help is based on your best judgement. Clearly explain to them that you have noticed behaviour that you’re concerned about and reassure them that you will support them throughout treatment. Be patient and persistent. Psychosis is treatable. Recovery is expected.

In Northeastern Ontario there is a family networking group that you can connect with if you live in this catchment area. Call toll free at 1-888-495-7830 for more information.

*Content adapted from Psychosis Sucks.

Getting Help

If you’ve noticed some unusual changes in yourself or someone you know, you should talk to someone – your family, friends, school counsellor, or your doctor. The first step is to ask for help. Early intervention is the key.

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