The awareness/education information on this page is sourced from either the Family Peer Support website at website, or from other validated sources as noted on the individual articles and video's. 

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About Peer Support

Peer Support occurs when people provide knowledge, experience, emotional, social or practical help to each other. The source of support is a peer, a person who is similar in fundamental ways to the recipient of the support; their relationship is one of equality. A peer is in a position to offer support by virtue of relevant experience: he or she has "been there, done that" and can relate to others who are now in a similar situation. Peer support is proving to be an effective strategy for recovery.

Anosognosia - A reason for medication non-compliance

Anosognosia - "lack of insight" or "lack of awareness" - is believed to be the single largest reason why individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder do not take their medications. A result of anatomical damage to the brain, it affects approximately 50% of individuals with schizophrenia and 40% of individuals with bipolar disorder. When taking medications, awareness of illness improves in some patients. Impaired awareness of illness is a strange thing. To others, psychiatric symptoms seem so obvious it’s hard to believe the person experiencing them is not aware he/she is ill. 


The following information was provided by: Scott McNeil RPN MSc. Interim coordinator ACSS/ACM/CRP White Rock/South Surrey Mental Health Centre

Common mental health problems experienced by people.

Many people experience some type of mental health problem in their lives, rates for numbers of people having an experience of mental health issues in their lifetime in Canada are 1 in 5 people, in the UK 1 in 4 people have this experience. There are many different types of mental health problems that people experience and some are more common than others. The following is a limited overview of the more common mental health problems; it is not a complete list of every problem. It is also based mainly on the medical model of mental health problems which helps doctors diagnose and treat and therefore the language is a bit formal. However it is important to think about the impact of mental health problems and not just the label. It is also important to consider that almost all people at some point in their lives struggle with a period of some type of emotional distress and therefore rather than being unusual or abnormal, mental health problems are often more intense, longer lasting and more disabling expressions of what all people are susceptible too and experience.

Mood Disorders

• MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER- the person experiences depressed mood, disturbed sleep, tiredness, loss of motivation, negative thinking, poor appetite and problems with thinking.
• Type 1 – the person experiences both manic episodes (abnormally elevated or irritable mood) and depressive episodes. People can also experience paranoia (fear that others are plotting against them) or grandiosity (beliefs that they are more important, talented or special than in reality they are) and a disturbance in their thinking. This type of Bi-Polar can lead to extremely disruptive behaviours in a person’s life.
• Type 2 – the person experiences the abnormally elevated or irritable mood, but to a lesser extent than a manic episode, they do not experience the paranoia or grandiosity mentioned above, to the same extent as a manic episode. This type of Bi-Polar can lead people to being more productive but it can also lead to disruption in people’s lives too.

Anxiety Disorders

• PANIC DISORDER (with or without agoraphobia) - the person experiences states of panic (extreme anxiety) in which they think they may die or lose control.
• POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER – the person has suffered single or multiple traumas and on high alert for re-occurrence of that past danger and experiences cognitive intrusions that make it feel as though the trauma happening again.
• SOCIAL ANXIETY-the person holds fears of being judged negatively by others and becomes anxious around others.
• OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER – the person hold beliefs that their obsessive thoughts about catastrophe will come true unless they act to neutralise those thoughts.
• HOARDING – the person holds beliefs about either discarding or acquiring objects/possessions that leads to them having so many possessions their homes become impossible to live in.
• BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER – here the person holds beliefs about a specific aspect(s) of their body being unacceptable to others.
• SPECIFIC PHOBIAS – the person has a phobic fear of a specific situation, ie spiders, that makes them feel anxiety.
• GENERALISED ANXIETY DISORDER – the person experience worry usually about future hypothetical events, to the extent that their sleep and daily functioning is severely disrupted.
• HEALTH ANXIETY – the person holds excessive fears about having or the possibility of contracting a serious health condition.

Eating Disorders

• ANOREXIA NERVOSA- the person often holds beliefs about the body shape being unacceptable and weight being too high, even when they are underweight. People often starve themselves and/or exercise excessively to achieve their body weight/shape goals. People will also sometimes binge and purge food.
• BULIMIA NERVOSA- the person again holds beliefs about their body shape and weight being unacceptable. They engage in a pattern of bingeing food and then trying to eliminate the calories they have just taken in by “purging’, often through vomiting or laxative use.
• BINGE EATING DISORDER – the person engages in excessive eating, likely related to other psychological factors.

Substance Related and Addictive Disorders

• SUBSTANCE INTOXICATION, SUBSTANCE USE AND SUBSTANCE WITHDRAWAL DISORDERS (alcohol, hallucinogens, stimulants, opioids, sedatives, inhalants, cannabis) – the person engages in problematic substance use which impairs functioning and may lead to medical complications in withdrawal.
• GAMBLING DISORDER – persistent and recurrent gambling that leads to impairment in functioning and emotional distress.

Psychotic Disorders

• SCHIZOPHRENIA – the person experiences difficulty with interpreting their environment, they experience hallucinations (where they see, hear, smell or feel things that are not happening), they can experience delusions (beliefs about the world that are not accurate) which can be paranoid or grandiose. They may also experience disturbance in communication (unable to express themselves so others can understand) that demonstrates disturbance in thinking (they are unable to form their thoughts in a way that allows them to communicate effectively). People who experience this problem can also experience inability to emotionally express themselves, severe loss of motivation, loss of social skills and depressed mood.
• SCHIZO-AFFECTIVE DISORDER – the person experiences symptoms of schizophrenia and episodes of depression or elation (mania). There are details about the presence and absence of mood and psychotic symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of schizo-affective over schizophrenia.
• DELUSIONAL DISORDERS – the person hold firmly fixed beliefs about the world that are not accurate or in keeping with their cultural group and not amenable to change despite contrary evidence. Can be paranoid, religious, grandiose, jealous, erotic, somatic (body).

Personality Disorders

There are many different types of personality disorder, some common features include:
Being overwhelmed by negative feelings such as distress, anxiety, worthlessness or anger. Avoiding other people and feeling empty and emotionally disconnected. Difficulty managing negative feelings without self-harming (for example, abusing drugs and alcohol, or taking overdoses) or, in rare cases, threatening other people. Difficulty maintaining stable and close relationships, especially with partners, children and professional carer’s.

Resources to explore if mental health problems are impacting your life

• Talk to your family doctor if you don’t have one check out; (
• Contact your local mental health centre (
• Mood Disorders Association BC (
• Mental health self-help guides (
• Check out a series of guided self-help books that are part of a book prescription programme in the NHS in the UK at ( there are a range of titles and they can be found on usually for a small cost.

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