Early Psychosis Intervention (EPI) is a specialist service for those youth and young adults experiencing a first episode of psychosis. The EPI Team is part of the Waitemata District Health Board’s District Mental Health Services. We help people who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis and provide support for families/whanau.
The EPI Team uses a model called Early Intervention. This involves giving support, information and treatment to people as soon as possible after their first experience.
We are able to see you in our offices or at any other place you feel comfortable e.g. home, school or workplace.
What is Psychosis?
There are three main experiences people may have when experiencing psychosis:
1. Hallucinations - experiences that come through your senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell) but don’t seem to have an external cause e.g. hearing voices when there isn’t anyone around or seeing things that others can’t see.
2. Delusions - strongly held beliefs you might have but that others around you would say were strange or unusual.
3. Disorganised thinking - can feel like you are thinking less clearly. It might be hard to concentrate, or it might be hard to put words together and you might not be sure if you are making sense.
As well as having a primary role as a key worker in the team, a community nurse has specific skills in:
- administering and monitoring medication
- monitoring side effects of medication
- liaising between you and your doctor
- assisting you with any physical health issues.
Maori Cultural Advisor
Maori cultural assessment and support may involve providing:
programmes that are based upon the four interacting dimensions of ‘Te Whare Tapa Wha’ (the traditional Maori health system):
- Taha wairua (spiritual health)
- Taha hinengaro (mental health)
- Taha tinana (physical health)
- Taha whanau (family health)
- an understanding of what it means to be Maori
- assistance accessing traditional Maori healing, cultural assessments, customary remedies and using Maori language in treatment if requested
- family/whanau interventions in an environment based on Maori cultural values, customs and beliefs.
Occupational therapy aims to help support people to be able to do the things they want or need to do. Occupational therapists might work with you around the following areas:
- setting goals and supporting you to work towards these
- developing leisure interests and roles
- self-confidence, communication and stress management
- work and study or training
- living skills including cooking, budgeting, and transport
- motivation, decision making and problem solving
- using community supports and resources.
Psychiatrist and Psychiatric Registrars
A ‘psychiatrist’ is a doctor who, after basic medical qualifications, receives further training and develops the expertise to become a ‘specialist’ in identifying symptoms of, and diagnosing and treating, mental illnesses. You may have been referred to a psychiatrist if your doctor feels you need specialist help.
Along with other types of treatment, medication plays an important role in recovery from a psychotic episode and prevention of further episodes. There are a number of different types of medications that are effective in reducing the symptoms of psychosis, and the anxiety and stress these symptoms may cause.
Treatment usually starts with a low dose of medication and your doctor and key worker will give you and your family/whanau lots of information about the medication as well as potential side effects. The doctor will also monitor your physical health and provide oversight of your care. You might see the doctor weekly if you are in crisis but usually you will see them every one to three months.
Psychological interventions are mainly talking therapies that are based on psychological principles. The aim of these is to help you understand and/or change certain thoughts, feelings and behaviours in order to reduce distress and achieve greater life satisfaction. Some of the other psychological interventions are:
- problem solving
- stress management
- dealing with the symptoms of psychosis
- reducing low mood and anxiety
- developing healthy coping strategies.
As well as having a primary role as a key worker in the team a social worker has specific skills to help you:
- address your social needs and problems in the community around e.g. education, work and income, families and relationships
- find appropriate accommodation in the community to meet your needs
- address any barriers and inequalities you may face in your daily life.