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Schizophrenia FAQ – Tips from a Peer Support Specialist at CMHA

Today is Early Psychosis and Schizophrenia Awareness Day. Our H.O.P.E. Early Psychosis Intervention team understands that it can be upsetting or stressful to receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia, however, know that you are more than your diagnosis or a label, and recovery is possible!   

To help you better understand Schizophrenia and coping strategies, we’ve asked one of our knowledgeable Peer Support Specialists from our H.O.P.E. program to provide their insights: 

What are the early signs and symptoms of schizophrenia?  

Early signs of schizophrenia can be complicated, as it often shows itself in adolescence.  Many of the signs of schizophrenia are also signs of difficulties in adolescent behaviour. Signs/symptoms of schizophrenia may include:  

  • Hallucinations (sensations, like hearing voices, that aren’t real)  
  • Delusions (fixed, false beliefs that cannot be reasoned out or convinced) 
  • Changes in mood, motivation, and the ability to complete tasks
  • Social withdrawal 

How can I manage the symptoms of schizophrenia? 

Schizophrenia (and other forms of psychosis) is a lifelong journey and individuals living with schizophrenia can live happy, meaningful lives by managing symptoms. In addition to seeking professional help, consider adding the following into your routine to help manage symptoms of schizophrenia:  

  • Getting enough sleep (8+ hours)  
  • Getting plenty of fresh air and spending time outdoors 
  • Eating well 
  • Limiting alcohol and other drugs, which can make symptoms worse 
  • If you’ve been prescribed medication, ensure you’re following your doctor’s guidance and instructions 
  • Connect with a peer who shares similar experiences and may be able to relate to what you’re going through  



How can I inquire about receiving a diagnosis?  

If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of schizophrenia, speak with your family doctor and ask about your options for receiving an assessment. CMHA’s Rapid Access Psychiatry team, for example, takes referrals for psychiatric assessments.  



What programs does CMHA York Region South Simcoe offer for Schizophrenia?  

H.O.P.E Early Psychosis Intervention Program (14-35) helps those who are experiencing the first episode of psychosis get their lives back on track and stay well. The program is client-centered and recovery-oriented and works to promote early identification and treatment of psychosis. The program helps individuals achieve their goals at work, at school and within their social networks, minimizing the impact of the psychosis. 

Assertive Community Treatment Teams (18+) (ACTT) is a client-centered, recovery oriented mental health service which offers a broad range of intensive community supports to individuals experiencing mental health concerns in order to reach their recovery goals. 

Rapid Access Psychiatry (18+) team offers psychiatric assessments through a doctor’s referral. Referrals are screened for appropriateness for individual psychiatric assessment, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) group, and individual support. 

Hearing Voices Support Group offered virtually through Zoom as part of Community Connections. Our Peer Support Specialists help clients learn to cope with hearing voices and other forms of psychosis and “alternate realities.”  

For more information, contact us at 1-866-345-0183 or visit our Get Support page.

If you or someone you know is experiencing psychosis or schizophrenia, reach out for support – we are here for you.  



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