Neuroscience and psychology news and views. Psychosis sections GEF preschool education a mental state where someone might experience hallucinations, unusual beliefs, paranoia, mixed emotions, muddled thoughts, hyper-awareness or show unusual or puzzling behaviour.
The guidelines have been drawn from an international committee of professionals, patients and carers. The detailed points are in table 1 of the paper which is available online as a pdf file. If you want additional mental health first aid information, there’s more on a dedicated website. Psychosis is the mental state where someone might experience hallucinations, unusual beliefs, paranoia, mixed emotions, muddled thoughts, hyper-awareness or show unusual or puzzling behaviour. If someone seems distressed or impaired by their experiences, even if they’re quite subtle at first, it’s best not to ignore them and hope they’ll go away. It’s good to give the person the opportunity to discuss the situation.
People experiencing the early stages of psychosis may be worried, and may be concerned about discussing their experiences because of what others might think. Also, the experiences might be frightening in themselves. The key is to be caring, gentle and non-judgemental. Find somewhere where they can talk safely and that’s free of distractions. Don’t force a conversation if it’s not wanted and don’t touch them without permission. Ask the person what will help them feel safe and in control, and allow them to talk about their experiences at their own pace, even if they seem quite unusual to you. Let them know that help is available, and if they don’t want to talk, they’re welcome to talk at a later time.
It’s important to respect the person’s beliefs, even if you don’t agree. Someone who is experiencing psychosis might find it hard to distinguish what’s real from what’s not, so telling people that they’re wrong rarely helps. However, it’s always possible to empathise with whatever emotions are stirred up by the experience and this can be very comforting. Avoid criticising or blaming the person.
They may be talking or behaving differently because of their experiences. Although the person might be having some odd experiences and difficulty focusing, their intelligence is unlikely to be affected, so you can talk to them as any other adult. However, sarcasm might be misunderstood by someone who is very suspicious, so should be avoided. Be honest, and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Avoid denying, dismissing, laughing at, or arguing about their perceived reality. Try not to be alarmed, horrified or embarrassed about any unusual ideas or paranoia.