Schizophrenia carers need more support, says NICE

In wide-ranging updated guidance on treating and managing the two mental conditions, NICE has put forward a number of new recommendations.

These include offering families and carers support from people who have recovered from psychosis or schizophrenia themselves.

About one in 100 people will experience schizophrenia in their lifetime, with many continuing to lead normal lives. While some people will recover completely from their symptoms, others will improve but may become ill again.

The same proportion of individuals will also have at least one episode of psychosis at some point during their life.

“There is considerable fear and stigma linked to psychosis and schizophrenia,” said Professor Mark Baker, centre for clinical practice director at NICE.

Professor Mark Baker

“This is the second update of NICE’s very first clinical guideline. It sets out how best to treat and manage people with schizophrenia, from the first episode through to management of further acute episodes and longer term care

Since the original guideline was published in 2002 there has been a new emphasis on how to detect and treat the conditions earlier and also an increased focus on long-term recovery.

A key recommendation in the new guideline is referral from primary care if a person is distressed and has a decline in social functioning.

Referral is also advised if they have transient or attenuated psychotic symptoms, other experiences or behaviour suggestive of possible psychosis, or a first-degree relative with psychosis or schizophrenia.

NICE states anyone displaying these symptoms should be referred for assessment without delay to a specialist mental health service or an early intervention in psychosis service because they may be at increased risk of developing psychosis.

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