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Schizophrenia and Psychosis

Although it affects around 40,000 people in British Columbia (about 1 in 100 Canadians), schizophrenia is one of the most widely misunderstood of all mental illnesses. Most people in BC do not recognize the signs of schizophrenia, nor do they understand that it is a serious mental illness caused by a chemical disturbance. Fortunately, it is treatable - with family, friends and care providers playing key roles in supporting individuals with the disease. [read the fact sheet]

Although we don’t completely understand what causes psychosis, many medical researchers believe that people are born with a vulnerability towards psychosis. This doesn’t mean they’ll automatically become ill, but that if the person is exposed to enough stress it can trigger psychosis. The more vulnerability to psychosis a person is born with, the less stress is needed to make them ill. [read the fact sheet]

Materials related to psychosis:

Resources for families and general public:

Resources for persons who have or may have psychosis:

Other related materials:


Materials related to psychosis

Resources for Families and the General Public:

If you want to find out more about the signs and symptoms of psychosis, these fact sheets are a great place to start — whether you're trying to support a family member, or just want to educate yourself.



What is Psychosis | factsheet

Imagine you wake up one day and find that you feel different. It’s hard to say exactly what’s different but you find yourself thinking unusual thoughts. Over the next while, you notice it’s also becoming harder and harder to talk to your family and friends... [more]

Psychosis | fact sheet

What do you think of when you hear the word “psychotic?” Some people are scared of psychosis because of the way it’s shown on TV or in the movies. In real life, though, psychosis is a serious and disabling mental health condition—but it is treatable and many people recover after only one episode when they get proper treatment... [more]

How to Help People Recovering from Psychosis: What Family and Friends Need to Know | fact sheet

When your family member comes home from the hospital, many of their symptoms may be reduced or gone, but some may remain. You can help them recover by maintaining a calm, positive environment for them, and by educating yourself on their illness. It is quite normal for a person who has just experienced psychosis to... [more]

Psychosis and Depression | fact sheet

Depression is not a symptom of psychosis but people who have psychosis often are depressed as well. Also, psychotic symptoms can be part of depression. A person might talk about feeling helpless or hopeless. The person seems depressed most of the day and spends a lot of time crying... [more]

Symptoms of Psychosis & What to Do | fact sheet

Who knew I’d have to learn to cope with living with someone with psychotic symptoms? I sure didn’t. Gradually I’ve learned how to help my brother live with his symptoms, and to adjust to being around him successfully in the good times and the difficult ones... [more]

Mental Health and New Mothers: About Postpartum Depression and Psychosis | fact sheet

Post partum depression is a relatively common depression (up to 15% of new mothers) occurring in the first few weeks or months after birthing. It is caused by a combination of social, economic, psychological and body/hormonal changes new mothers experience. In rare situations (1-2 births in every 1000 women) a woman will also develop psychosis, a treatable illness of the brain... [more]

The Recovery Cup Board Game | instructions

Here you'll find instructions on how to create your own Recovery Cup board game. Included are templates for the game board and printouts of the cards used. Have fun while learning about the condition: symptoms, treatments, risk factors, and how to help someone with psychosis... [more]


Children and Youth

For Kids: When Your Brother or Sister is Sick with Psychosis | fact sheet

Why is my brother or sister acting so weird? Is it my fault? Can I catch it? Do they still love me? Why is this happening to our family? Will it always be this way... [more]

For Teens: When Your Brother or Sister Has Psychosis | fact sheet

Why is my brother or sister acting this way? Will I get it too? Was it something I did? How can I help? How long will it take for them to get better...[more]

Understanding Mental Illness: For Kids who Might Know People with Psychosis* | booklet

In psychosis, the brain is damaged and does strange things to the person. At times it makes voices that talk to the person, other times parts of the brain you think with get out of joint, which makes the person speak in strange ways. Even when the person is not hearing voices or being suspicious, the brain is still not working right. Some parts might still be slow and not work very well, like the part of the of the brain that help the person... [more]

*Please note this booklet is designed to be printed on double-sided paper and folded.



Resources for Persons who Have or May Have Psychosis

Are you worried you may have psychosis? Early intervention is key in recovery from mental illness. Below you will find fact sheets on identifying and managing symptoms of psychosis. Remember to visit your doctor or other mental health professionals to recieve proper diagnosis and treatment.



For Young Consumers: Help With Psychosis* | booklet

This booklet has information to help you take care of yourself and prevent relapse. It has information, and places for you to keep track of other information like warning signs for relapse, things you want to discuss with your doctor, and numbers of people who can help you... [more]

* Please note this booklet is designed to be printed on double-sided paper and folded.


Adults and Special Populations

What’s Going On With Me? Signs & Symptoms of Psychosis | fact sheet

Psychosis is a medical problem of the brain. It makes it hard for a person to think and can cause you to hear, see and believe things that seem very real, but aren’t. First experiences with psychosis are more common in people aged 16-30. Psychosis is believed to be caused by vulnerabilities a person is born with, combined with the stress of difficult situations, drugs, illnesses or injuries. It can be very confusing to the person experiencing it... [more]

Cannabis and Psychosis | fact sheet

Marijuana use has been shown to trigger and worsen psychosis in young people who are vulnerable to psychosis and may even cause psychotic illnesses in people who would not otherwise suffer from them. There is increasing research evidence to show that, particularly when someone starts using marijuana in their teens and uses heavily, that marijuana can trigger early onset of psychotic illnesses. For those do become ill, approximately 15% will continue to have psychotic symptoms even after they stop using... [more]

Crystal Methamphetamine and Psychosis | fact sheet

Crystal Meth (Methamphetamine) has been shown to cause psychosis and to worsen or cause recurrences of psychosis in people who already have psychosis. Psychosis is an illness of the brain that makes it difficult to think and may cause a person to hear, see or believe things that seem real, but aren’t. Crystal meth can cause psychosis on it’s own if used heavily or by someone who has some other risk factors for psychosis. Some of those people who get psychosis from using crystal meth keep having... [more]

Mood and Psychosis: Signs & symptoms of psychosis for people with mood disorders | fact sheet

Hearing voices and seeing things that other’s don’t. Feeling suspicious and paranoid. Feeling and behaving in ways that are not yourself. Having difficulty thinking and organizing your thoughts. If you have depression or bipolar disorder and are experiencing some of these symptoms, it is important to tell your doctor about them. While not common, psychotic symptoms can be a part of a number of mental illnesses... [more]

Mental Health and New Mothers: About Postpartum Depression and Psychosis | fact sheet

Post partum depression is a relatively common depression (up to 15% of new mothers) occurring in the first few weeks or months after birthing. It is caused by a combination of social, economic, psychological and body/hormonal changes new mothers experience. In rare situations (1-2 births in every 1000 women) a woman will also develop psychosis, a treatable illness of the brain... [more]



Other related materials

Mental Disorders Toolkit | workbook

This interactive toolkit will help people who already know that they have a mental disorders develop skills to manage their illness on their own. It has been designed to be helpful for an individual with any diagnosis, and to complement specific toolkits that have been developed for depression and anxiety disorders. This workbook is here for you to help make sense of the information available about your disorder and about the various treatments and strategies for managing it; working with your doctor or other mental health professional to find a treatment that is as effective as possible; and learning your "early warning signs" and developing an "action plan" to avoid a relapse - that is, a return or worsening of symptoms leading to a repeat episode of the disorder... [more]

Family Toolkit | workbook

When a family member suffers from a mental illness, one of the most important things to do is to take the time to learn about the disorder. By educating yourself as much as you can about the mental or substance use disorder, you can take an active role in your family member’s recovery. The Family Toolkit was designed to assist families in caring for a family member with a mental illness by providing information and practical resources... [more]

What are Mental Disorders? | fact sheet

Like it or not, mental illness can affect anyone. In BC, at least one in five people will experience some form of mental illness in his or her lifetime, according to research by Health Canada and the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health... [more]

Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs | fact sheet

Drugs are chemical compounds, found in plants or made in a lab, that affect activity in the brain or the body. Tobacco, alcohol and caffeine are the most commonly used. For thousands of years, people around the world have been using certain drugs to help them in their daily lives. Most people can and do use a wide range of drugs in their daily lives without experiencing serious problems. But problems can happen when a person misuses a drug, or when the effects of a drug lead to behaviour that causes harm to the user or to others... [more]

Concurrent Disorders: Mental Disorders and Substance Use Problems | fact sheet

Concurrent disorders, the combination of a mental illness and substance use disorder, are much more widespread than many people realize. For example, a survey conducted in BC found that 55% of mental health service users interviewed had substance use issues that accompanied their first episode of mental illness. The relationship is complex... [more]

Concurrent Disorders: Mental Disorders/Substance Use Problems | journal issue [PDF]

This issue of Visions: BC's Mental Health and Addictions Journal - our largest ever, at 60 pages - explores the theme of co-existing mental health and substance use problems from a number of different angles and includes personal stories, approaches and models, regional programs in the community, and resources. Visions is an award-winning magazine by and for people with mental health and substance use problems, families, and service providers in BC... [table of contents]

Getting Help for Mental Disorders | fact sheet

Perhaps the most important part of caring for one's mental and emotional well-being is knowing when and where to seek help. Many people assume they can handle their day-to-day problems without spending much time dealing with their feelings, let alone reaching out to someone else for emotional support. But sometimes life throws a curve ball - a severe illness, a painful divorce or a sudden emotional crisis, for example - that depletes one's inner resources and leaves a person feeling helpless and overwhelmed... [more]

Mental Disorders, Addictions and the Question of Violence | fact sheet

Although mental health advocates have traditionally maintained that people with mental illness are no more violent than the general population, research during the past decade suggests that there is a modest relationship between violent behaviour and certain sub-groups of people with mental illness, namely, those who also have a substance use problem or who are experiencing certain kinds of psychotic symptoms. However, when seen in a broader context, about three per cent of violent offenses could be attributed to mental illness and another seven per cent to probable substance use. That is to say, only one in ten crimes could be prevented if these disorders did not exist... [more]


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