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If your friend or relative has unusual distressing experiences such as psychosis, here are some challenges shared by family and friends, with suggestions for overcoming them.

I keep telling my friend or relative they’re wrong but they don’t listen.

This is a common frustration. 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 to your friend or relative their experiences are as real. 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 how to deal with this, and other ways to help them.

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I’m not sure if medication is a good idea, or my friend or relative doesn’t want to take it.

This is a common issue. 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. They won't necessarily view them as part of psychosis.

It can be worth trying 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 then think, with your friend or relative about what treatments may be right for them. There is lots of information about treatments in our treatment choices booklet.

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I don’t want my friend or relative to go to hospital, or they don't want to go. 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 or relative or the EIP team really think things are unsafe will hospital be considered.

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.

If you are the ‘next of kin’ you may be asked to consent to your relative going to hospital against their will. This might happen if your relative is being ‘sectioned’ under the mental health act. This means a section of legal process is being used, so that the EIP service can place your relative in hospital for their own or someone else’s safety. They do have a right to appeal and an independent tribunal will hear from all sides and 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 do things that you enjoy.

Your relative may not want to go into hospital. This is often the case, as people often have real experiences that do not seem related to mental health problems. They may become angry or upset, which may make you feel upset or guilty.

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Do take some time to think very carefully about what 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 decide what you think is the best option, but do also listen to other people’s views. Try not to get caught up in defending one side or the other. You may decide that your relative should go to hospital even if 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. It will also help the team to understand your views ... But do listen to the views of the team as well. If you want 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 they don’t agree with you at the time, they may later.

 If you’re in agreement with each other and the team, this will help your friend or relative too, 

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 take your relative to hospital without your permission.

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I’m worried about telling people about my friend or relative’s problems.

Stigma or fear that you will be rejected because of a mental health problem, can be an issue. This is often because people don’t know enough about mental health and psychosis. You can discuss this with your friend or relative, and with their team, and 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 all 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 can trust to be helpful. You may want to give them a copy of the friends and family booklet too.

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Read stories from family or friends here