Delusions, hallucinations and hearing voices are key signs of psychosis, a condition that may affect as many of one in 30 B.C. residents, and the condition is treatable if expert help can be obtained early on.
The B.C. government’s latest budget increases support for the health ministry’s early intervention program, enough to allow hiring for 100 positions in the 10 regional psychosis teams around the province, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson said Tuesday.
Currently early psychosis intervention services are available in Vancouver, Victoria and Prince George, with regional teams for the Interior and Fraser health authorities. Anyone can refer themselves or others through the five regional health authorities.
Over three years, the $53 million budget is to fund positions including psychiatrists, nurses, case managers and peer support workers, with outreach to rural and remote areas where need is identified, Malcolmson said July 20.
Faydra Aldridge, CEO of the B.C. Schizophrenia Society, emphasized that early treatment of young people leads to better results for people with serious mental illness.
Psychosis often begins in the teen and young adult years, says the province’s Early Psychosis Intervention group, which includes family and caregiver representatives as well as health authority and ministry staff.
“I was really confused when I experienced psychosis for the first time, and I did not understand why everyone around me was concerned,” said Anne Liao, who works with the intervention group. “Early psychosis intervention provided education, wraparound support and treatment that helped me get back on track so that I could finally complete my undergraduate degree.”
The ministry maintains a website with resources including a suicide prevention line at 1-800-784-2433 and a mental health support line at 310-6789 (no area code needed).