What is Mental
All of us, at some
points in our lives will experience some psychological and emotional
problems. At times, the person may benefit from some professional
help in dealing with these difficulties. “Mental illness” is one way
of thinking about these difficulties which views these problems as
an 'illness' that effects us psychologically and emotionally. One in
five New Zealanders will experience a mental illness at some point
in their lives. It is important to remember that each person’s
experience of mental illness is different, and that different people
may think of their experiences in different ways (that is, not
everyone thinks of their problems in terms of ‘mental illness’).
What is Psychosis?
Psychosis is a word that
is used to describe a collection of experiences that reflect a
change in how the person thinks and/or feels about the world. In
general terms these experiences usually reflect some change in the
person’s views of reality. When a person is experiencing psychosis
this is called a psychotic episode.
What are the Symptoms
thinking (also known as ‘thought disorder’)
Racing thoughts or
(usually not shared by others – sometimes referred
to as a ‘delusion’)
develop a belief in something that they would not normally
These beliefs may be
held for unusual reasons
beliefs may be the person’s way of making sense of unusual
experiences, such as hallucinations.
tasting, seeing or feeling things that others do not experience
(e.g. the person may hear voices speaking to them which no one
else can hear)
In addition to the
above, the person may have changed feelings and/or changes in
What is First-Episode
refers to the first time someone experiences psychotic symptoms or a
psychotic episode (of course, this does not mean that the person
will necessarily have a second episode later). The symptoms can be
highly disturbing and completely unfamiliar, and may be both
confusing and distressing.
What Causes Psychosis?
A range of factors are
associated with the onset of psychosis. No single cause has been
identified. Stressful experiences, substance use (including street
drugs such as cannabis) and family history of mental illness are
believed to contribute to the onset of psychosis. Street drugs can
also increase the likelihood of a relapse of psychosis and so delay
recovery. Psychosis can also be associated with conditions such as
‘schizophrenia’ and ‘manic depression’, and with certain medical
This information sheet is produced by:
St. Lukes First-Episode Psychosis Team
615 New North Road
Phone 09 8450940
Please feel free to ask any team member if you have further
questions about psychosis.