Health Assured team

24 February 2022

It’s fair to consider psychosis as an escape from reality. People can become so fixated by internal thoughts, it makes it hard to recognise what is real and what is not.

Psychotic episodes vary from person to person; and 3 in 100 people have experienced them at some point in time.

If an employee mentions they suffer from them, you have a legal duty to provide support. Failing this, you could be held liable for negligence and face costly business penalties.

Read all about psychosis, what the symptoms are, and how to support employees with mental health conditions.

What is psychosis?

Psychosis is when someone loses touch with reality. They might hear, see, or think things that aren’t real. The bigger problem lies when they cannot tell the difference between reality and imagination.

Everyone’s experience of psychosis will be different, but some can result in extremely distressing experiences.

What are signs of psychosis?

There are various early signs of psychosis, but most are categorised under two symptoms:


People will see, hear, and even taste things that don’t exist. These episodes often feel very real to the affected person. For example, hearing voices or thinking objects have moved when they haven’t. 

Hallucinations is a symptom which places psychosis and schizophrenia under the same umbrella.


People will hold strong beliefs which cannot be acknowledged by others. Delusions (or paranoia psychosis) feel very real to the person, even if there is a lack of evidence to prove otherwise.

For example, a person could believe someone is out to harm them, or they could believe someone has poisoned their drink. 

Other symptoms

There are other symptoms which link to the start of a psychotic episode. For example:

  • Confused thinking.
  • Withdrawal from usual activities.
  • Highs and lows in mood.
  • Abnormal behaviour.
  • Speaking quickly and stumbling over words.

What causes psychosis?

Different types of psychotic causes can lead up to a handful of mental conditions. These causes can be found in illnesses like, stress induced psychosis and bipolar psychosis.

Psychosis is also associated with:

Other causes of psychosis can derive from:

  • Trauma and abuse.
  • Alcohol, smoking and recreational drugs.
  • Specific medications.
  • Physical illness. 
  • Excessive stress and anxiety.
  • Sleep deprivation. 

Legal rights for people with mental health conditions

Under the Equality Act (2010), you must protect the health, safety, and welfare of all employees. And this includes caring for their physical and mental health.

Psychotic episodes are considered as a symptom, rather than a diagnosis. But some mental health conditions legally class as a disability–if certain conditions are met.

It is unlawful to discriminate against someone with illnesses–physical or mental. If you’re found guilty of discrimination, you could be forced to attend legal hearings and pay costly penalties.

How to support employees suffering from psychosis

There are several ways to support employees with psychosis at work. Whether psychotic episodes happen inside or outside of work, they can have a huge impact on day-to-day life.

As an employer, you must help employees work safely alongside their condition. Here are a few steps on how to support them:

Offer medical referrals

It’s important to provide medical referrals to employees with mental health issues. GPs and medical professionals can offer expert advice and treatment like:

  • Antipsychotics.
  • Self-help groups.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT for psychosis).

Improve working conditions 

It’s widely acknowledged that routines and familiarity help employees manage mental health conditions.

Improving working practices allows people to perform to the best of their ability. And reasonable adjustments can help manage and review workloads, too.

You can even provide additional rest breaks or counselling sessions to help deal with stress or anxiety.

Provide mental health information and training 

Some people might not fully understand how to help colleagues with a mental health problem. They might not recognise symptoms or triggers during work.

So, provide them with information and training on psychotic episodes and other mental health illnesses. That way, they can decrease repercussions and protect morale.  

Keep open communication  

It’s so important for employees to openly talk about any medical concerns they’re dealing with.

Some might hide them, so they aren’t labelled as 'problematic' employees. Employers have a legal duty to host a healthy and safe workspace, with open communication on mental health.

Discuss how you can provide tailored support, and regularly check in on vulnerable employees. 

Get expert guidance on psychosis with Health Assured 

Spotting the signs for psychotic episodes might seem like a complicated matter. And you may feel you aren’t qualified to help in this way.

But all employers have a legal duty of care to provide a healthy workspace and safe working conditions.

Health Assured provides expert guidance on helping employee with psychosis. Our counsellors offer support through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) services, helping to manage mental health issues.

Our 24/7 helpline provides vital support 365 days a year, allowing employees to chat with a professional counsellor in an instant. Arrange a call back from our wellbeing experts today on 0800 206 2550.

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