Mental Illness Awareness Week is an annual national public education campaign led by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) intended to raise awareness about mental health and provide support and treatment options for mental health conditions. On the heels of October’s event, I’d like to invite your readers to learn more about psychosis and early psychosis intervention.
Psychosis is a cluster of symptoms that can include experiences from false beliefs about the world and others to trouble with thinking skills, such as memory and attention. According to NAMI, as many as three in 100 people will have a psychotic episode at some point in their lives. Psychosis typically first emerges in adolescence or early adult life and is often frightening, confusing, and distressing for the people experiencing it and difficult for their families to understand.
Signs of psychosis include:
• Hearing, seeing, tasting, or believing things that others do not
• Persistent, unusual thoughts or beliefs
• Strong and inappropriate emotions or no emotions at all
• Withdrawing from family or friends
• A sudden decline in self-care
• Paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, odd behavior or thinking, emotional changes, and new difficulty with work or school
Knowing and recognizing the signs of psychosis and helping the person experiencing these symptoms receive mental health help quickly can greatly improve their quality of life and their ability to successfully manage symptoms. Early intervention by highly trained professionals, including therapists, nurse practitioners, and case managers can help reduce crises and ER visits and improve the long-term health outcomes of the participants.
Coordinated specialty care, also known as early psychosis intervention, provides individuals with first-episode psychosis access to treatment that includes cognitive behavioral therapy for psychosis; medication; case management; help with work and school; and support, education, and counseling for family members. This intervention has been shown to reduce the impact of first-episode psychosis by alleviating symptoms and helping patients re-integrate into the community.
Educational and support resources are available at the national, regional and local levels and include:
• Southeast Healthcare at 419-949-2000.
• The National Alliance on Mental Illness, which you can reach by phone at 1-800-950-6264, by texting “Helpline” to 62640 or via chat on the organization’s website.
Anyone struggling with psychosis or having thoughts of suicide can call or text the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Charles Pickering, LPCC
Southeast Healthcare, Mount Gilead