Observing Psychosis in young people is not necessarily a common experience for many professionals. In the early stages of a psychotic illness symptoms may be vague and hard to distinguish from adolescent development and other problems arising during adolescence. It is for this reason Hume Region Early Psychosis Services (REPS) offers training to increase workers’ capacity in early detection of psychosis and are happy to assist workers with strategies in they are unsure how to proceed.
When a young person is having difficulty functioning in their normal roles and there are changes in their personality or behaviour, it would be worthwhile investigating for early psychosis. Firstly, acknowledge that the individual may be nervous or wary and try to find some common ground for discussion, gradually building up towards more specific questions about psychosis.
Hume REPS have developed a Screening Tool to assist workers in what to ask and observe for in relation to psychotic symptoms. If there has been some strange experiences reported by the young person it is helpful to ask about the frequency and duration of these experiences. The Screening Tool also assists in determining the response required depending on the young person’s presentation.
Non crisis referrals to Hume REPS are appropriate when there are psychotic symptoms present, there is a recent drop in functioning and the young person has not received treatment for psychosis prior. If you are uncertain if a referral is required feel free to ring your local Early Psychosis Clinicians to discuss your concerns. Referrals can be made using ‘Early Psychosis Referral Form’ or informally over the phone. Ensure you have the young person’s consent before you make a referral and if appropriate their guardian.
If you have made a referral, it may be useful to provide a copy of the ‘When you think you are losing it’ pamphlet to the young person and their carers to read. Explain to the young person that Hume REPS workers are experienced in working with young people and that the process is very informal. This time can be very confusing for young people and what the Hume REPS clinician will try to do is make some sense of what is going on. Often the feedback we give is we don’t think it is early psychosis and this can be a relief. However if it is early psychosis there is treatment available and the quicker a person gets that treatment the better. Remember to emphasize that the majority of people get better.