Psychosis (and hearing voices)

Young people may worry that they are ‘going mad’ when they are feeling stressed, confused or very upset. Psychosis is when your thoughts are so disturbed (and confused) that you lose touch with what is real and what is not.

Unusual experiences called ‘hallucinations’, such as seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or feeling something that is not really there, can also be a symptom of psychosis.

Hallucinations are very real to the person having them and this can be frightening and can get in the way of everyday activities like concentrating on lessons and homework at school or even socialising with friends.

Sometimes people with psychosis can struggle to recognise that they have a problem or it can be confusing to understand what is happening. This can make it hard to know what to believe and trust other people who may be worried about them.

Psychosis affects people of all ages, but is rare before the older teenage years. Although psychosis is rare, hearing voices that other people cannot hear or experience other hallucinations happens for many people. 

Top Tips

  • Tip 1

    If your child says that they are hearing voices or experiencing other types of hallucinations which they are finding confusing or worrying, it is important to get help, support and advice.


    Call NHS 111 mental health triage service as they can provide advice, support and guidance, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


    The Mental Health Triage Team has a wide range of skills, including on the phone brief psychological support and has access to key services and organisations that can offer mental health support to you and your child in your time of need. Just dial 111 or online at

  • Tip 2

    If needed, the Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) team can offer specialist assessment and treatment for people with symptoms of psychosis.  Young people, parents and carers or your GP can make a referral to EIP.


  • Tip 3

    Alcohol and drugs can make symptoms such as hallucinations or not being sure what is real or not real, worse. Your child should avoid drinking alcohol excessively or taking illegal drugs.

  • Tip 4

    Lack of sleep or disrupted sleep, not eating or drinking properly or high levels of stress can also make hallucinations worse. It is important for physical and mental wellbeing to make sure that your child has enough sleep, eats well, etc.

  • Tip 5

    Make sure that your child has a balanced daily routine: a good night time routine and eating and drinking enough. Relaxing is also important so make sure your child has time to chill out during stressful times such as revising for exams.

Hide this section
Show accessibility tools