Pyschosis focus of new IHA program

A new website is bringing together services and tools from across B.C.

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.

“We know that psychosis usually begins when people are in their youth – a very critical time in their growth and development,” said David Harrhy, Interior Health Authority’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, and can also access toolkits for dealing with psychosis, a family coping booklet, and information on relapse prevention and stress management, among others. 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.

About 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,” said Harrhy.