Women and Psychosis: A Guide for Women and Their Families
After a psychotic episode, you may want to forget about being ill and just stop treatment. It is advisable, though, to continue
in follow-up. This will be a critical time for you to decide on the next steps in your life. Working with a doctor and other
health care providers will help you address any problems that arise, and will help you plan to reach your goals. The doctor
who treated your psychotic episode will arrange for you to see a doctor as an outpatient. A case manager or counsellor may
also be arranged. You may wish to explore other resources, too. Below are some ideas about where to look for extra help.
A second opinion
At some point in your treatment, you may want a second opinion on a specific issue, such as your medication or whether to
become pregnant. Most large cities have a hospital-based psychiatric program linked to a university. These programs are usually
doing research. They have up-to-date information on issues such as new drugs, genetics and women’s mental health. Your doctor
can arrange for you to consult with an expert. The Canadian Mental Health Association also lists psychiatrists who specialize
in various illnesses. As well, you can contact self-help organizations, such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Mood Disorders Society or the Schizophrenia Society. They can suggest experts in the field.
Case management and counselling
Working with a case manager or counsellor who collaborates with a family doctor or psychiatrist can be very helpful. This
person will help you plan how to get back to work or school. The counsellor will ensure, too, that you have enough support.
A case manager can also work with you and your family members to reduce stress and improve your coping skills.
If you don't have a case manager, ask your doctor to refer you to one. Most hospital programs for outpatients have mental
health teams. These consist of social workers, nurses, occupational therapists and psychologists, as well as doctors. Commonly,
community health centres also have a team of mental health care providers. Organizations offering community care may have
services you could benefit from, too. If you are a student, your school will have counselling services. Some schools offer
specialized services for students with mental health issues. Others may refer you to someone who is able to help you.
Organizations such as the Schizophrenia Society and the Mood Disorders Association offer a variety of services, including information meetings with guest speakers, support groups and newsletters. These organizations
also advocate for better services and laws. Some hospitals offer self-help groups.
Specialized groups or counsellors
Specialized groups or counsellors address issues such as assertiveness, body image, relationships and trauma, and parenting.
Many community-based women’s centres offer these services. So do local mental health associations, libraries and mental health
Alcohol and other drug treatment
Some hospitals and community agencies now offer programs for concurrent disorders. People with concurrent disorders have both
a mental illness and a problem with alcohol or other drug use. Alcohol and other drug treatment centres are usually listed
in the first pages of the phone book.
Pregnancy and medication information
Women who are considering pregnancy or are pregnant may want to consult the Motherisk program at the Hospital for Sick Children
in Toronto, Ontario (Tel.: 416 813-6780; website: http://www.motherisk.org). Motherisk advises pregnant women and health professionals about the possible risks to the fetus. Risks exist when the fetus
is exposed to drugs, chemicals, infection and radiation.
Parents of infants and small children may want one-to-one support and/or to join parenting groups. Public health departments
and some community centres and hospitals offer these supports. Most services are free. When a child is at risk, a child welfare
agency becomes involved to support the mother, her child and other family members.