New Class Helps Families Identify Symptoms of Early Psychotic Episodes

February 25, 2018 11:19 PM

Mental health advocates are pushing families to identify symptoms of psychosis is children and young adults in the Twin Cities.

Identifying mental illness in kids and young adults can be difficult, but local advocates say the warning signs of psychotic break are important to spot. And there's a renewed interest in teaching people what to look for in these cases.


Sue Abderholden is executive director of Minnesota's branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI. She said research shows that when untreated, psychosis can be one of the most disabling conditions in the world.

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"Most people have no idea what to do if they see symptoms of psychosis or schizophrenia in a loved one," Abderholden said. "We don't know yet how to prevent it from developing, but we do know how to prevent it from becoming disabling."

Abderholden said three in every 100 people deal with symptoms of psychosis in their lifetime, and young adults aged 18-21 are at the greatest risk of experiencing a psychotic break. She also said families need to learn to watch for symptoms in children and young adults.

"Often young people are very afraid to let people know they are experiencing those symptoms," Abderholden said.

That's why NAMI is hosting a two-hour class in Crystal in March aimed at educating parents and caregivers.

"We want people to seek treatment immediately," Abderholden said, adding that most people wait an average of 74 weeks after symptoms begin before reaching out for help. "It can be scary if you think someone's following you, if you're hearing voices or anything like that. We want to help families say 'It's OK.'"

The class will be held March 13 from 6:15-8:15 p.m at the Crystal Neighborhood Outreach Office, at 227 Willow Bend. To register, call Melodie Hanson at 763-504-4981 or email

Below is a description of the course:

Understanding Early Episode Psychosis - Learn the signs and symptoms of psychosis, causes, treatment options and why early intervention is so important. Participants will learn how to advocate for and help a young person get back to work or school and achieve recovery. This is a two-hour class and is for parents or caregivers of youth or young adults. This is a two-hour class and is for parents or caregivers of youth or young adults. (Not intended for professional development of educators or other youth serving professionals - see version for professionals, here.)


Kirsten Swanson

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