Three per cent of youth are directly affected by psychosis, a serious brain condition that induces a loss of contact with reality.
The experience of psychosis varies from person to person and may include seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling or tasting things that are not really there. Another symptom is an unshakeable false belief in something that is impossible or unbelievably strange. The experience could also include extreme worry that someone is out to harm them when it's not true.
It’s a frightening statistic and a frightening subject, but a group of mental health workers and those who suffered from the brain condition hope to demystify the issue during a tour of Kamloops schools this week during the ReachOut Psychosis concert tour.
The tour includes the Vancouver band Proud Animal and comedy interspersed with playful interactive information and prizes from sponsors.
Band member Mike Young also speaks personally about how psychosis affected his life.
“One day I was taking the bus to work when I noticed a woman sitting across from me, who was staring at me like she was mad at me. Then I kinda freaked when I realized it was not just that one woman but the whole rear of the bus glaring in my direction,” he said.
“I’m worried about what others might think if I tell them anything, so I stay quiet about what I've been feeling.”
ReachOut has toured the province since 2005, performing in gyms and auditoriums to more than 100,000 young audience members so far.
“If properly diagnosed at early stages, medical treatment has the ability to not just turn young lives around, but to save lives,” said Barbara Adler, school liaison for the concert tour. “Teen suicide statistics related to youth mental illness are staggering.”
By identifying psychosis as a treatable medical condition of the brain, the program helps youth and teachers recognize it early and get effective help, said Adler.
The group will be performing Wednesday at Brocklehurst Middle School 9 a.m. and Beattie School of the Arts at 2 p.m.
Thursday, they’ll be at St. Anne's Academy at 9 a.m. and South Kamloops Secondary at 1:45 p.m.