​​​​Portuguese actors and clinicians during the filming of the psychosis video
Portuguese actors and clinicians from the Portuguese Mental Health and Addictions Service during the filming of the psychosis video at Toronto General Hospital. (Photo: Toronto Western Hospital Patient Education)

What is psychosis?

Psychosis is a mental health condition causing a person to see, hear or believe things that aren't real. Hallucinations and delusions are the most common symptoms of this condition.

"Psychosis is an area of mental health that is not quite as well-known or understood as depression or alcoholism, which are two of the most common conditions we treat," said Maria Benevides, Clinician, Portuguese Mental Health and Addiction Service.  

Family members may also find themselves struggling alongside the patient. Caregivers must learn to cope and manage the inner chaos their loved one is experiencing. Treating Portuguese speaking patients with psychosis and supporting family members is one of the areas of expertise at the Portuguese Mental Health and Addiction Service at Toronto Western Hospital (TWH).

New video seeks to educate patients

The Portuguese Mental Health and Addiction Service at TWH teamed up with the Patient and Family Education Program, the Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation (TGWHF) and CHIN Radio to raise funds and produce a free YouTube video about psychosis for the Portuguese community.

Click here to watch the video.​

The video, which has English subtitles, involves several scenarios that aim to give insight into the mindset of someone with this condition, as well as provide strategies for interacting with a patient.

"When we work with families, we try to give them tools to make daily life a little easier to cope with," said Noemia Cerqueira, Intensive Case Manager, Portuguese Mental Health and Addiction Service.  "Sometimes the first instinct is to try and convince the patient that their delusions or hallucinations are not real, but that can further agitate the person and make things worse."

Beating the stigma

Like most aspects of mental health there is a lot of stigma attached to this condition, but with better understanding of what it is and how to respond to a patient with psychosis, we may not be so quick to pass judgment and be in a better position to help others.

"Our goal in expanding our education tools is to empower people, so they don't feel alone or to blame for what is happening," said Maria. "For the Portuguese community, we sometimes need to cut through cultural stereotypes, so that people understand that psychosis is a medical condition and is not caused by spiritual or supernatural forces."

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