Interior Health partners up for province-wide psychosis support

Families and young people in Kelowna and the Okanagan who are experiencing psychosis to get access to early assessment and treatment.

A new website developed by regional health authorities is bringing together services and tools from across B.C. to help families and young people experiencing psychosis access early assessment and treatment.

“Early intervention helps young people and families suffering from psychosis to learn coping tools and help them on their journey through life,” says Health Minister Terry Lake. “These supports follow through on our commitment to helping those living with mental illness be fully engaged in their community and with their families.”

“We know that psychosis usually begins when people are in their youth – a very critical time in their growth and development,” says David Harrhy, Interior Health’s Network Director for Mental Health and Substance Use. “It’s really important that we can begin treating psychosis early, so that young people can make a successful recovery and move on toward building healthy and productive futures. This website will play an important role.”

The site, www.earlypsychosis.ca, delivers psychosis information from across the province right to the fingertips of youth and their families. Users can find services available in the Interior, Vancouver Coastal, Fraser, Island, and Northern health authorities, and can also access toolkits for dealing with psychosis, a family coping booklet, and information on relapse prevention and stress management, among others. Downloads are available in a variety of languages including Punjabi, Urdu, Mandarin, Korean and German. In addition to information for families, clients and community supports like teachers and counsellors, the site also links to other mental health sites and personal stories.

Approximately three per cent of people will experience a psychotic episode at some stage in their life, with the first episode most commonly occurring in adolescence or early adulthood. Psychosis is a serious condition where the brain has difficulty differentiating between fantasy and reality.

Research shows that individuals who experience symptoms of psychosis will struggle for up to two years before they access treatment. This is, in part, because of the stigma attached to mental health challenges such as psychosis.

“The goal of the website is to give people the resources to learn more about psychosis and to understand that it is treatable, just like any other health issue,” says Harrhy. “It’s about providing information for families, so they can understand psychosis and support their loved ones who are struggling toward recovery. In so doing, we are hopeful for fewer relapses and hospital visits, and better outcomes for the patient.”

The website was developed by the B.C. Early Psychosis Intervention Advanced Practice Program, which is an ongoing collaboration between the Interior, Vancouver Coastal, Fraser, Island, and Northern health authorities, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Children and Family Development, and Early Psychosis Intervention service providers throughout the province.

In addition to the website, Interior Health has a broad range of services that provide support, collaboration, education and mental health assessment to those individuals who are experiencing symptoms of early psychosis. These may include psychiatric assessment and treatment, outreach support and community education. People can access supports by contacting their local Mental Health and Substance Use services.

Interior Health is committed to promoting healthy lifestyles and providing a wide range of quality health-care services to more than 742,000 people living across B.C.’s vast interior. For more information, visit www.interiorhealth.ca, follow us on Twitter @Interior_Health, or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/interiorhealth.ca.