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Families face obstacles finding help for those with schizophrenia

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WATCH: When a loved one is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, getting them help fast is critical, but it isn’t always easy. As Heather Yourex-West explains, sometimes families need to turn to the legal system for help – Apr 7, 2017

Calgary resident Simon Adamson began experiencing symptoms of mental illness when he just a teenager.

“The first depression I had was when I was 13 and I was sick for about five months,” he said.

He battled depression on and off until high school, at which point he said life around him seemed to change. Unbeknownst to those around him, the high school football player was experiencing psychosis.

For over a year, he tried to cope with almost constant delusions and hallucinations.

“I couldn’t talk about it, I was so afraid that people were going to lock me up and throw away the key.”

READ MORE: Why parents should watch for symptoms of schizophrenia in adult children 

For Adamson’s parents, it was also a terrifying and confusing time.

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“We were really struggling as parents, his mother and I,” Jim Adamson said.

“We really didn’t know what was going on with this kid. We were thinking, is he doing street drugs? Something wasn’t right but we didn’t know what it was.”

It wasn’t until Adamson tried to board a plane to Los Angeles in the midst of a delusion that his parents were able to have their son hospitalized.

Watch below from April 6: High-profile not criminally responsible (NCR) cases in Canada have brought schizophrenia to the public’s attention. So what do parents need to watch for in order to make sure their adult children get help as soon as possible? Heather Yourex-West explains.

Click to play video 'Why parents should watch for symptoms of schizophrenia in their adult children' Why parents should watch for symptoms of schizophrenia in their adult children
Why parents should watch for symptoms of schizophrenia in their adult children – Apr 6, 2017

When it comes to psychosis, if the person is posing a threat to themselves or others, loved ones can call emergency services like police or EMS for help. In less urgent situations, however, getting treatment can be more complicated.

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“Another way to get help in less acute situations is to get a legal injunction from a family court judge under the mental health act,” said Dr. Donald Addington, a psychiatrist with the University of Calgary.

Addington says a doctor can also issue a certificate under the mental health act ordering treatment, as long as they have had direct contact with the patient.

For Adamson, now in his 30s, once treatment began, so did his recovery. While his journey has been long, he says he feels positive about his future.

“I get help from my family and from my church and all kinds of people who are rooting for me and supporting me. My life is definitely on an upturn.”