Early Clinic First Episode Program logo

1-888-NM-EARLY ( 1-888-663-2759 )

For Family & Friends

  • Psychosis can be scary, overwhelming and traumatizing for everyone in the family. It is essential to seek help from professional supports, other family members and friends.
  • In psychosis the person may see things and/or interpret information in a way that doesn’t make sense to you. Don’t argue. It will only make the person confused and frustrated. Be loving and empathetic with their feelings. Don’t agree with delusional beliefs. It’s ok to tell the person you don’t perceive things the same way and leave it at that. Prioritize what matters and use simple, concrete sentences. Focus on what you can agree on.
  • Allow your loved one a longer amount of time to respond to your questions or statements as they might be processing more slowly or having difficulty processing information.
  • Don’t push the person into doing things you would normally expect them to be doing. Let most things slide until the psychosis begins to clear. For example, work, school, chores and ordinary social interactions may all become impossible for a person who is experiencing active psychosis.
  • Set simple, clear limits.
    • Do not, ever, under any circumstances, accept violence in your household.
    • Make a few simple rules designed to ensure safety and harmony in the household.
    • When the person is calm and doing well, ask for their input about the rules. Be clear what you will do if the rules are broken. Examples of rules include no physical violence (hitting, breaking things, etc.), no weapons in the house, etc. Make sure your rules are based on the person’s behavior and your greatest concerns.
  • Hold onto hope. You will get through this and things will get better.
  • Take things one step at a time. Keep it simple and break down what needs to be done next.
  • Work closely with your team. Communicate regularly with the counselor, doctor, and local crisis team. If your loved one refuses treatment, seek help for yourself and work with someone knowledgeable to problem-solve and coach you.
  • Maintain a safe and comforting physical environment.
    • Remove all access to weapons, potentially poisonous materials, and car keys.
    • Remove all access to alcohol and non-prescribed mood-altering drugs.
  • Give the person plenty of space. They may not be able to tolerate the stimulation of normal day-to-day life right now. Let them retreat.
  • Continue normal routines and include the person to the degree they are able.
  • Pay attention to how you communicate. Avoid strong displays of emotion, both positive and negative. The goal is to approach the person in a positive, calm, consistent attitude, regardless of their emotional state.
  • Make a crisis plan. Know what you will do and who to call, especially on the weekends and in the middle of the night. Know what to watch for, including early and late warning signs (based on previous crises) and how you will respond. Most crises can be avoided or lessened by knowing and responding to early signs. Talk it through with the professionals to make sure they’re on board with their part.
  • Know who to call, and call them to problem solve. Keep their phone numbers in multiple places so you don’t lose them when you need them. See our Resources page for helpful references.

Information reprinted with permission from Early Assessment & Support Alliance