TRCH Nov 19

Notes From a Mental Health Nurse: Psychosis

28 October 19 words: Notes From a Mental Health Nurse
illustrations: Liv Auckland

Each month, our anonymous mental nurse, who has over two decades on experience working in Nottingham, will deal with a specific mental health issue with practical, accessible advice. This month, it's psychosis...

Psychosis is a difficult illness to explain, as cultural context can influence an individual’s perception. We all have our own ‘funny little ways’, superstitions and family traits, but that does not mean that we are mentally unwell.

MIND states that “psychosis is when you perceive or interpret reality in a very different way from people around you.” It can present itself as hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting or feeling things that other people do not. People can develop false, fixed beliefs referred to as delusions. I’ve noticed that altered beliefs and perceptions can be influenced by current media and global happenings. For example, in the nineties it was not uncommon for people to experience imagined persecution from the IRA, whereas today it’s more likely to be ISIS.

How can you make sense of a voice telling you that you’re going to come to harm when there is no-one else in the room? What additional false thoughts might be built around that experience? Understandably, you’re trying to make sense of something that does not make sense. This can lead to isolation and odd behaviours, with you internalising and concealing symptoms in order to protect yourself and others. These altered perceptions can be frightening and lonely, so early intervention is key.

Symptoms of psychosis can arise quickly or develop over months. A slower onset is sometimes more difficult to identify and others often notice something is not quite right before you do. Like any illness, outcomes improve the sooner psychosis is diagnosed and treated. Barriers to accessing help include stigma and a fear of being “locked up”. However, improved community support and treatment from specialist teams are available. See your GP promptly and they can refer you urgently to mental health services, where you should be seen within ten days. 

Early intervention in Psychosis services can offer practical and emotional support. Community Psychiatric Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Support Workers and Psychiatrists can help you and those close to you understand what’s going on and guide you to seek the right path to recovery. It’s not all about medication. Staff working in these teams are trained to help you, so access them. They are there for a reason.

Groups offered within Early Intervention Services in Nottingham:

Hearing Voices Groups

Football Groups run at Forest 

Social Groups e.g. snooker

Support to access personal interests/hobbies/education

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychosis (1:1 sessions)

Wider access for mental health support:

NGY (Base 51): under 25s

Wellness in Mind

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