September 08, 2006

Barriers Facing Young People Seeking Help for First Episode Psychosis

A recently published academic journal review of young people's experiences of a first episode of psychosis shows that their decision about whether or not to seek help was influenced by their understanding of and response to early symptoms and the role played by family, police or other adults in connecting them with help.

The personal narratives of eight young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who were receiving treatment from two early intervention clinics in Southern Ontario formed the basis of this study, published in Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal.

The authors’ goal was to better understand the factors that were involved in youths’ seeking or not seeking help from the mental health system. They found that young people often used a strategy of ignoring or denying symptoms or keeping the earliest symptoms to themselves.

The youths described several reasons why they didn’t ask for help. At the beginning, they didn’t know what was happening to them or thought the paranoid feelings of being watched or hearing voices would go away. Their first concern was the stigma of mental illness or their concern about worrying their parents.

When they did eventually access treatment, it only happened once the symptoms became so severe that they told someone what was happening to them. The authors found many people, including parents, other family members, police or other adults, were involved in facilitating access to treatment. Most of the youths did not seek help on their own. Half of the young people had to be persuaded, cajoled or even forced to accept treatment.

The authors say that their findings highlight the need for education on many levels. Youths, family members and service providers need education on the early signs of psychosis. The authors also stress the key role played by the school system as both the first place young people’s problems are identified and as a service provider.

The authors conclude by noting the limitations of their study, including the small number of young people who were interviewed. They say that research using the narratives of young people remains an important way to understand the experience of seeking help.

Source: Understanding Help Seeking Delay in the Prodrome to First Episode Psychosis: A Secondary Analysis of the Perspectives of Young People, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal (Summer 2006; 30: 54-60).


I began to have psychotic symtpoms at age 10. They gradually worsened over the years until I was about 36 when I became homicidal and suicidal. I felt I could not tell my parents at age 10 that the Devil was talking to me, so I avoided treatment for years. I wish I had sought and received help as a child.

Posted by: Donna at September 9, 2006 09:54 AM

this is very true, my first break was at 19, while I was institutionalized I was let out in a week and it took 2 and a half years for me to realize I had a mental illness, that possibility just never entered my mind, it was easier to believe God was using me to send special thoughts to the world.

Posted by: richard at September 9, 2006 10:48 AM

I tried to get help and they told me I was depressed and gave me anti-depressants. I decided not to take them and to see a different psychiatrist. Then I was told I had anxiety problems and was given drugs to mellow me out until I was non-functional. And then eventually I found a psychiatrist that suggest I try anti-psychotics, and they seem to help a little bit. It is possible that they anti-depressants only made things worse, as Wellbutrin increases dopamine and high dopamine seems to be the cause of schizo. Huh... funny how they charged me $165 an hour so they can perscribe me chemicals that make things worse. This type of treatment is no science, It is pure experimentation. And sometimes experiments go wrong...

Posted by: Cory Schulz at September 10, 2006 09:08 PM

it really is pure experimentation, that is something every new patient should be made to understand, like most people with sz, it took me years of trying different meds to find what works, not everyone is that patient and they just give up and go without meds. this is a real serious issue that NEEDS to be closely looked at at an institution by institution basis, I really don't think that is happening

Posted by: richard at September 12, 2006 02:47 PM

I believe my son may have sz. He is 20. He is hearing Jesus
predict the future. I have talked to a psychiatrist about this and she wants to talk to Alan. He is absolutly refusing to see anyone. He does not want to believe that Jesus is not talking to him. I don't know what to do. Should I continue to talk to him about this. I feel like I am badgering him. He wants me to forget he told me anything. Any suggestion is appreciated.

Posted by: Brenda at October 5, 2006 06:12 AM

Hi, i am 17 years old and my mother was dianosed w/ Paranoid -Schizophrenia when she was 17, and i greatly fear i might have it. The reason being so is:
A)Sometimes im aggressive and untamed around certain people, but others i am not (is that a sign of split-personality?).
B)Sometimes feel nervious and overly emotional (mostly when im alone).
C)Has a rapid temper & is easily annoyed; However, is quickly claimed.(is that another sign of split personality?).
D)Fears that i well become forgotten, hated, betrayed,misunderstood, and/or un-loved by some one i love.
E)Has a slight weak sense of smell (when my class- mates claim to smell something and every once in a while i dont smell it.)
F)Am slightly destructful towards things; However, not as much as when i was in my younger years.
E)When sometimes upset or fustrated w/ my mother or sister, i throw what ever i can find pitch-able.(i.e. glasses, cd players, and etc.)
F)Find it somewhat difficult to focus,which causes me to become extremely forgetful and baffled.
I've been studying the acts and traits of teenagers(rebellion,stubborness, short- temperedness,
moodiness,....) and Paranoid -Schizophrenia,and compared and contrasted the two and they seem similar; However, my mother stated when i was 7 that since she was dianosed w/ it, the chance of me having it is greater. So my question is...Do i have Psychosis or is it just the change of life.

Posted by: kimberly at October 11, 2006 09:06 PM

hi when i first had my episode of psychosis i did not know what was happening to me. so i thought what i was feeling was real now i realize that everything that whent threw in my mind was just apart of psychosis. the only thing that worries me is if its going to go away i take medication for it but im not going to to be able to afford it becuase it is to expensis i wonder now if i stop taking my medication if im going to be able to control it and if it is going to get worse.ive lost everything cuase of my illness im going to stop taking my medication to see if i dont need it anymore and see if i can control it or if it is going to go away..........

Posted by: gerardo arcia at March 21, 2007 10:30 AM

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