One of the most frightening experiences can be when the brain confuses what is real with what is not – this is called a psychotic episode, sometimes called psychosis.  Some early warning signs that someone might be experiencing psychosis include:

Confused thinking

A young person may find it difficult to concentrate follow a conversation or remember things.

False sense of reality

Thinking someone is there when they aren’t or strongly believing something that probably is not true


Such as thinking they are being followed or someone’s always watching them


Seeing, hearing & smelling things that aren’t there


Difficulty showing emotions, withdrawal and mood swings are other signs to watch out for.

Young people do recover from psychosis with appropriate treatment and the earlier they seek help, the better the outcome.  Treatment for this is usually medication, helping a young person to understand what they are experiencing, counselling, family support, avoiding stress and staying away from drugs.

Having a collaborative trusting relationship with open communication allows for young people to feel comfortable to raise these concerns when they first appear.

Check out Youth Beyond Blue and ReachOut for more information about different mental health problems.

Further Resources