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"I'm not insane, my mother had me tested." The risks and benefits of being labelled 'at-risk' for psychosis.

Welsh, Patrick; Brown, Sally


Patrick Welsh

Sally Brown


In this article we examine the identification of young people deemed to be at an elevated risk of developing psychosis (often referred to as an At-Risk Mental State for psychosis). Although this is not a new concept within psychiatry, there has been a growing interest in this topic because of the proposed inclusion of an official
‘Psychosis Risk Syndrome’ in the 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Although we discuss the risks and benefits associated with the categorisation of individuals
based on the concept of risk itself, we also draw upon observations from one of our own research studies. We interviewed six adolescents with an identified At-Risk
Mental State analysing the data using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis framework. We identified three key themes: ‘It is better to say it’, ‘How others would
take me’ and ‘Just to have somebody to talk to’. Within these themes, participants endorsed risk identification as a means of personally justifying and explaining their current symptoms, as well as providing a sense of optimism that their condition was not yet fully formed. Concerns regarding stigmatisation were identified although rarely
experienced. These findings indicate that there are indeed personal benefits for screening for psychosis risk in young people, despite the ‘undesirability’ of identification
reported in other areas of health. The benefits observed may reflect genuine differences in adolescent mental health or the methodological constraints of this exploratory study. Nevertheless, the results contribute to the understanding and on going debate of screening for illness in potential ‘at-risk’ populations.


Welsh, P., & Brown, S. (2013). "I'm not insane, my mother had me tested." The risks and benefits of being labelled 'at-risk' for psychosis. Health, Risk and Society, 15, 648-662.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 13, 2013
Online Publication Date Oct 28, 2013
Publication Date Oct 28, 2013
Deposit Date Apr 14, 2016
Publicly Available Date Apr 14, 2016
Print ISSN 1369-8575
Electronic ISSN 1469-8331
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Pages 648-662
Keywords Categorisation; risk; psychosis; mental health; young people;
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