Frequently Asked Questions for First Responders

Frequently Asked Questions for First Responders

What are the symptoms of psychosis?

Symptoms of psychosis may include seeing or hearing things which aren’t there, confused thinking, and unusual behavior.

How does an individual act while experiencing psychosis?

People experiencing psychosis may appear confused, agitated, or have difficulty communicating coherently.

How do you help someone snap out of psychosis?

When working with an individual experiencing symptoms of a psychotic episode, avoid trying to “snap them out” of psychosis. Instead, stay calm and supportive while connecting them with mental health professionals.

How should I respond to someone displaying psychosis symptoms?

Stay calm, use active listening skills, be supportive, and use clear, simple language. Seek medical help if needed and ensure a safe environment.

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

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

What questions can I ask a person 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 people experiencing psychosis pose a danger to me?

Most individuals who experience psychosis are not dangerous and are in fact more likely to be victims of violence. Treat them with compassion and follow safety protocols.

What resources should I bring when responding to an individual in crisis (EMS, fire, counselors, clergy, family, etc.)?

If your region has a crisis intervention team, consult with its members to determine who is best equipped to respond to an individual with psychosis in crisis.

What treatment options for people experiencing psychosis are available in an emergency setting?

In emergencies, focus on safety and connecting the individual with medical and/or behavioral health professionals.

What are the treatment options for people experiencing psychosis?

Treatment may include medication, therapy, and support services tailored to individual needs. Treatment options in your region may vary. To find early psychosis intervention near you, please visit the MOBHC Treatment Locator.

How long can someone be in a crisis situation, and what can I do to help de-escalate the situation?

The duration of a crisis situation can vary, but offering a calm presence, active listening, and avoiding confrontation can help to de-escalate.

How long does a psychotic episode last?

The duration can vary. Early intervention and treatment may help shorten the episode.

Do individuals remember psychotic experiences?

Some individuals may remember parts of the experience, while others may have limited recollection.

What resources can I direct people experiencing psychosis toward?

Provide information on local behavioral health centers, crisis hotlines, and support groups. For those in Missouri, use the DMH Treatment Locator.

How can my community support individuals experiencing psychosis?

Create a supportive network of mental health services, community resources, opportunities for professional training, and education about psychosis.

How do I advocate for people 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.

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