Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014

Health News

Cool Tool

Fraser Health pitches online psychosis program for youth and families

Released by Fraser Health Authority/Website image


new website developed by regional health authorities is bringing together services and tools from across BC 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," said 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."

"Being able to treat psychosis early is very important, since it usually starts during a very critical stage of a young person's life," says Laura Hansen, manager of mental health and addictions at Vancouver Coastal Health. "Adolescents and young adults are just starting to develop their own identity, form lasting relationships and make serious plans for their careers and futures. It's important for a successful recovery so they can have a healthy, productive future."

Brent Seal, a young man who has experienced psychosis, agrees. "You can recover from psychosis, get back to functioning at a high level and live a full life," he says. "The site will play an important role in helping so many people do that."

The site,, delivers psychosis information from across the province right to the fingertips of youth and their families. Users can find services available in the Vancouver Coastal, Fraser, Island, Interior 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.

"Research shows that individuals who have experienced symptoms of psychosis will struggle for up to two years before accessing treatment," says Dr. Karen Tee, manager of child, youth and young adult mental health and substance use services at Fraser Health. "Part of that is due to the stigma of psychosis and a fear that it's some sort of 'life sentence.' Our goal with this site was to give people the resources to learn more about psychosis and to understand that it is a treatable condition, just like any other health issue."

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.

Parent Gail Windsor knows first-hand the importance of having strong supports in place for those suffering from psychosis. "The new website provides a wealth of current, pertinent information and much-needed information for families struggling to understand what is happening to their loved one and how they can best help them," she says.

"It's about being a supportive community for those touched by psychosis," Dr. Tee adds. "We want to help people understand psychosis, deal with the symptoms, work towards recovery, and educate about the resources available. We know that early psychosis intervention leads to fewer relapses, better social outcomes and reduced hospital use."

The site was developed by the B.C. Early Psychosis Intervention Advanced Practice Program, which is an ongoing collaboration between the 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.



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