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HealthInfo Canterbury

Supporting someone with psychosis

Friends hug in support of each otherIf you're close to someone who has a psychotic disorder, the way you support them will be very important in their recovery. When they're unwell they may not realise that they're unwell, or that what they think and believe is not real. This can leave them (and anyone who depends on them) at risk.

Caring for a loved one who is unwell but doesn't want to accept your help can be a challenge. It's normal to feel guilty or disloyal in this situation. However, remember that your loved one isn't thinking properly, they are vulnerable to harm right now, and when they are well again they are likely to thank you for getting involved.

It can be hard to know how to react and how to help your loved one. You can get more information and advice from

It's also important to look after yourself and seek help if needed.

Getting help

Call or make an appointment with the person's GP or practice nurse to talk about your concerns. If your friend or family member has become unwell, their GP can get them assessed by a mental health team.

You can contact the Mental Health Service directly if you are worried about the safety and health of someone who may be having a psychotic episode. Phone 0800‑920‑092 for Christchurch, or 0800‑222‑955 for Ashburton.

The Early Intervention in Psychosis Service, Totara House, has a family/whānau support group for the family of young people aged from 18 to 30 who are having a first episode of psychosis. If your family member is under the care of Totara House you may be able to join this group.

Yellow Brick Road provides free support for families and support people of people with mental illness. This leaflet explains the services it offers in Canterbury.

Being a parent can be particularly challenging for someone who has a psychotic disorder. Read more about resources and support groups for children of parents with a mental illness or addiction, which can benefit the whole family.

Children Understanding Mental Illness is a school holiday programme that provides education, social activities and support for children with a family member who has a mental illness.

The Caroline Reid Family Support Service provides services for children in families affected by mental illness. They include the Children understanding mental illness programme, peer support, fun activities, information and advocacy.

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On the next page: Psychosis in teens & young adults

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by consultant psychiatrist, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed December 2020.


Page reference: 148733

Review key: HIPSY-124133