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My child is hearing voices or seeing things. What can I do?

Hearing voices or seeing things that are not there can happen for all sorts of reasons. It can be a normal part of growing up for many children, but can also be a sign of psychosis, which is a symptom of a variety of mental or physical illnesses (for example it can occur in depression or bipolar disorder, or may be a sign of a medical problem). This is why it’s important to get checked out.  

For most people, symptoms of psychosis first begin between the ages of 13 and 30 (commonly occurring between ages 18 and 24). Psychosis involves a loss of contact with reality. When you have psychosis, what you think is real is not the same as what other people think is real.

For example, a young person might begin to:

  • hear or see things that are not there (hallucinations)
  • have strange beliefs they cannot be talked out of
  • become very suspicious or paranoid
  • act very differently than they did before

If you are concerned your child may be experiencing psychosis, don’t hesitate to get help right away: 

  • If you find yourself or child in need of immediate help, call Emergency Services - 911.
  • Learn more about psychosis on our Kelty website, and find some resources and suggestions to support your child.
  • See if there is an Early Psychosis Intervention (EPI) program in your region. EPI programs help people who have recently started to experience psychosis symptoms. You do not need a referral and can contact the program directly. Many of the programs are for ages 13-30 or 19-30, but it varies.
  • Contact your doctor.
  • If there is no EPI program in your area, visit your local Child and Youth Mental Health office during their drop-in intake clinics (for ages 18 and younger). If your child is 19 or older, then call 811 and ask for the number of your local mental health team.

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