When a parent has experienced psychosis – what kids want to know (Guide)

When a parent has experienced psychosis – what kids want to know (Guide)

This brochure from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health aims to help children understand psychosis and support families when a parent has experienced psychosis. Psychosis is explained as a loss of contact with reality where someone has difficulty telling what’s real from what’s not real. Common symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, confused speech and difficulty expressing emotions are described.

The brochure covers questions kids may ask such as what causes psychosis and whether it can be fixed. It explains psychosis is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain and is treatable through medication and therapy. Details are provided on hospitalization and care if the parent cannot care for the child, emphasizing maintaining contact and normalcy. Tips are offered for talking to friends about it, like sharing only what you’re comfortable with and having an adult present at first.

The brochure reassures that psychosis is not contagious, though family history increases risk slightly. Focusing on managing stress and having a balanced life are noted as preventative.

Making an action plan on who to call and signs a parent is unwell can help kids know what to do when scared. Identifying adults to talk to for support is advised.

In a conversational tone, the brochure covers what psychosis is, typical child questions, and practical recommendations to help children cope and understand when a parent has experienced psychosis.

It guides how to answer the following questions:

  • What is psychosis?
  • When and how does psychosis start?
  • Can my mom or dad’s psychosis ever be fixed?
  • How can my mom or dad get better?
  • How can my mom or dad get better?
  • Is there anything I can do to make my mom or dad better?
  • What if my mom or dad has to go to hospital? What
    happens there?
  • What if my mom or dad is too sick to look after me?
  • What do I tell kids at school? Will they think bad things about my family?
  • Will it happen to me? Will I get it too?
  • What should I do if I’m scared? What can I do when I’m really worried about my mom or dad?