Psychosis experiences - I keep telling my friend or relative they’re wrong but they don’t listen.
This is a common frustration of a relative or friend. You keep trying to reassure your friend or relative that people aren’t really spying on them and that the voices they hear aren’t real but they don’t listen. This is because your friend or relative may be as certain that their experiences are true, as you are, that you are you. So, the more you tell them they’ve got it wrong, the more defensive and angry they’ll get and the less they’ll trust you. Have a look at the section on How to help your relative or friend for other ways to help them.
Medication – I’m not sure if it’s a good idea and my friend or relative doesn’t want to take it.
This is quite a common problem. Medications do help with psychosis symptoms but they do have side effects too. On top of that, your friend or relative may not want to take medication because the experiences they have are real to them and they won't necessarily view them as part of psychosis. It may be worth encouraging them to try medication for a few months (as it can take this long to work) and to try a second medication if the first doesn’t work (as it may take a little while to get the right medication for your friend or relative). Once the initial psychosis experiences have reduced, you can think, with your friend or relative about what treatments may be right for them.
Hospital – I don’t want my relative to go to hospital, what do I do?
Early intervention in Psychosis Services don’t want people to go into hospital either. In fact, EIP services were specially set up to do the opposite! They try to make sure that things never get that difficult. Only if you, your friend/relative or the EIP team really think things are unsafe will hospital be considered… and that doesn’t happen often because it also costs the NHS lots of money (e.g. about £2000 per week in 2013)!
If your friend or relative is having a difficult time with their mental health, and there is talk of them going into hospital, do talk to their team about this. If you are the ‘next of kin’ you may be asked for your agreement for your relative to be taken to hospital against their will. This might happen if your relative is being ‘sectioned’ under the mental health act. What this means is that a section of legal power is being applied to the situation, to allow the mental health service to place someone in hospital for their own or someone else’s safety. The person will then have a right to appeal this section and an independent tribunal will hear from all sides and will then decide whether your relative should stay in hospital or should go home.
This can be quite a stressful period for everybody so do make sure you keep some time for yourself, to relax and to do the things that you enjoy. If your relative doesn’t want to go into hospital, which is often the case for psychosis, as people don’t believe their experiences are related to mental health problems, they may become angry or upset and you may feel upset or guilty. Do take some time to think very carefully about what you think is right for your friend or relative. You know your friend or relative better than most so you are in a good position to share your thoughts. Do listen to other people’s views but try not to get caught up in defending one side or the other, instead decide what you think is the best option. This may involve deciding that your relative should go to hospital even when they don’t want to.
If you don’t want your friend or relative to go to hospital, then tell the service what you think and why you think it. Sometimes it can help to write this down in a letter as it can help you to think clearly about your reasons and it will help the team to understand your view, but do listen to the views of the team as well. If you would like them to listen to you, be prepared to hear them too. This will help you to reach an agreement together. If you’re in agreement with each other, this will help your friend or relative too, even if your relative doesn’t agree with you at the time, they may later. If you still don’t agree, this is OK too. If you don’t support your relative going to hospital then they may not go, or the team may legally seek to remove you as next of kin, just for this purpose, so that they can take your relative to hospital without your permission.
If your friend or relative does go into hospital there’s a booklet to help you with that too. Its called ‘Getting the most out of hospital’.
Stigma - I’m worried about telling people about my friend or relative’s problems. What if they ignore me?
Stigma or fear that you will be rejected or ignored because of a mental health problem, can be a problem for you and for a young person with mental health problems. This is often because people don’t know enough about mental health and psychosis but this can still be difficult. You may want to discuss this with your friend or relative and with their team, so that you can weigh up the pros and cons of talking to people you know about what’s happening.
Talking to friends and family members who are supportive can really help you and your friend or relative to have the support you need. Talking to your relative or friend’s work, school or college may also be helpful, but this will be up to them to decide. Their team may be able to help with this too. You (and they) may want to start by telling someone who you’re confident that you can trust to be helpful. You may want to give them a copy of the ‘friends and family’ booklet too.