Lived experiences of adolescents admitted for first-episode psychosis in South Africa


First-episode psychosis is common in adolescents and can be distressful to the person experiencing it for the first time. However, there is limited research globally and specifically in Africa about the lived experiences of adolescents admitted into a psychiatric facility for first-episode psychosis.


To understand the adolescents’ experiences of psychosis and receiving treatment in a psychiatric facility.


Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatric Unit, Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa.


This was a qualitative study that used purposive sampling to recruit 15 adolescents with first-episode psychosis and admitted to the Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatric Unit, Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Individual interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis consisting of both inductive and deductive coding.


The participants described negative experiences of their first episode psychosis, provided varying explanations for their first episode psychosis and had the insight that cannabis precipitated their episodes. They described both positive and negative interactions with both the other patients and staff. They did not wish to return to the hospital again following their discharge. Participants stated that they wanted to change their lives, return to school and try to prevent a second episode of psychosis.


This study provides insights into the lived experiences of adolescents presenting with first-episode psychosis and calls for future research to delve deeper into factors that support or enable recovery among adolescents with psychosis.


The findings of this study call for improving the quality of care in the management of first-episode psychosis in adolescents.


South Africa; adolescents; cannabis; first episode psychosis; inpatient; quality of care.

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