The length of time between onset of psychotic experience and support being offered by mental health services is referred to as the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP).
A meta-analysis published in Br-J-Psych last year (Penttilä, 2014) has suggested that there is a small correlation between increasing DUP and worsening outcomes over time. This small correlation, and the idea of withholding treatment, obviously mean that studies to demonstrate the efficacy of reducing DUP are not practical. However it can clearly be argued that if an individual is suffering with distressing psychotic experiences that early treatment and support represent a moral good in their own right. Reducing DUP has become a target for many mental health services.
The experience of psychosis is a complex phenomenon which is influenced by a myriad of personal and group psychological factors. Help-seeking in relation to psychotic experience is similarly complicated, and greater understanding of the manner in which individuals interact with families, communities and potential sources of support is needed.
In an effort to address this issue Connor (2014) and colleagues present their findings from a recent study seeking to explore the experience among families who sought help in relation to psychotic experiences, but for whom DUP was prolonged. The authors’ aims were:
- To examine the help-seeking narratives of families experiencing first episode psychosis (FEP)
- To explore families experience of first help seeking contact with their GP when seeking support for FEP
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