Frequently Asked Questions for Educators

Frequently Asked Questions for Educators

What is psychosis?

Psychosis is when a person has trouble distinguishing what’s real and what’s not. They might experience things which others don’t see or hear.

What symptoms of psychosis should I know about?

Symptoms may vary, but common signs include seeing or hearing things which aren’t there, delusional or confused thinking, appearing distracted by mild stimuli (such as lights), and sudden changes in behavior. Severity and symptom profile does not appear to vary by age, but a first episode of psychosis most often emerges in the late teens or early adulthood.

What are the early signs of psychosis?

Early signs may include withdrawal, changes in academic performance, and talking about unusual experiences.

What should I do if I think a student is experiencing psychosis?

Show care and concern. Share your observations with the school’s support team and seek guidance from the student and/or their family.

Can I help prevent a student from experiencing a psychotic episode?

While prevention isn’t always possible, fostering a supportive and understanding environment can positively impact students’ well-being. Encouraging the student or their family to seek treatment may help shorten the duration and severity of an episode.

How do I respond to a student who might be having an episode at school?

Stay calm, ensure the safety of the student and their classmates, and seek assistance from the school’s support team, first responders, or a mental health professional.

What questions can I ask a student who is experiencing psychosis to better understand what they are experiencing?

While each individual’s experiences will vary, it is generally helpful to ask open-ended questions to learn more about their experience and how you can assist them best. Here are some potential questions to get you started:

  • “Can you tell me what you’re experiencing right now?”
  • “How can I support you right now?”
  • “Are you feeling scared or overwhelmed?”
  • “Is there anything specific that caused these feelings or thoughts?”
  • “Is there anyone or anything that helps you feel calmer or safer?”
  • “Would you like me to call someone you trust to be with you right now?”
  • “Do you have any concerns or worries that you’d like to discuss?”
  • “Can you tell me more about the voices or things you see that others might not?”
  • “Would you like me to help you find a quiet and safe place?”
  • “Have you experienced anything like this before, and if so, what has helped in the past?”

Do students experiencing psychosis pose a danger to my other students or school safety?

Having psychosis doesn’t automatically make someone dangerous, and most individuals with psychosis are not violent. In fact, individuals who experience psychosis are more likely than others to be victims of violence. In some cases, an individual experiencing psychosis may behave in confusing or unpredictable ways, and this can result in harm to themselves and others. Treatment can reduce this risk, so it is important for the individual to seek care as soon as possible.

How is psychosis determined in my student?

Diagnosis is performed by medical and behavioral health professionals who evaluate the student’s symptoms and experiences.

What should I avoid saying or doing around a student with psychosis symptoms?

Avoid stigma or judgment, use active listening skills, and prioritize empathy and understanding.

Can students with psychosis still succeed in school?

Yes, with appropriate support, many students with psychosis can succeed academically and socially.

How do psychosis symptoms affect learning?

Symptoms can impact concentration and focus. Providing support and accommodations can help students succeed.

What accommodations would benefit a student experiencing psychosis?

Accommodations may include a quiet space, flexible deadlines, note-taking assistance, extra time for exams, and medication accommodations. Work with your student, their family, and the school’s support team to determine which accommodations will work best for your student’s needs.

What resources can I provide to students with psychosis and their families?

Mental health nonprofits and government mental health organizations can be useful sources of information for students and families. Examples include NAMI, NIMH, and DMH treatment locator. For individuals looking for care, the MOBHC Treatment Locator can show them behavioral healthcare available in their area.

As an educator, how can I help a student experiencing psychosis?

Show understanding, maintain open communication, and collaborate with the student’s support team.

How do I advocate for students who experience psychosis?

Advocate for accessible mental health services, address stigma when you encounter it, seek training on supporting individuals who experience psychosis, and promote understanding and empathy in your community.

What can my school do to help students experiencing psychosis get help?

Establish support systems, collaborate with mental health professionals, and offer resources to connect students with help.

What can my school do to create support systems for students experiencing psychosis?

Develop comprehensive support plans, involve families, and offer staff training on supporting students with mental health challenges. Remain up to date on professional development relating to academic accommodations.

How do I work with parents to disseminate information about my student’s psychosis to classmates?

Collaborate with parents to create a supportive environment, and ensure information shared is respectful and appropriate. Emphasize to other students that stigma and judgement are not welcome in the classroom.

How do I explain and accommodate my student’s condition with other students?

Encourage open conversations about mental health and emphasize inclusivity and support for all students.

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