Authors: Julia Oxley, Hannah Bloom and Melissa Petrakis , VIC
Event: 2010 TheMHS Conference
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: First-episode psychosis has been found to have significant impact on family and carers in addition to the impacts on the client themselves. The client experiencing psychotic symptoms for the first time can experience fear, distress, and isolation as a result of these symptoms, and other associated challenges including disruption to their relationships and future plans. For family and carers witnessing this psychosis the experience elicits various reactions including fear and guilt, and there is often an emotional and practical burden of care. A combination of peer support and psycho-education has been found to dramatically assist many people in recovery from physical and mental health issues. Such a group model was adopted at St Vincent’s Mental Health, Melbourne to support family, friends and carers of people experiencing first-episode psychosis. It was an open group to be responsive to new referrals, with no fixed number of sessions to attend. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were used to evaluate the first year of the group. Participants noted that key strengths were the wide range of practical and informative topics, the medication information, the shared experience and hearing other carers’ stories, and the safety and reassurance the group provided.