A TOP psychologist is challenging people’s understanding about the nature of severe mental illness.

Sara Meddings, from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, is among the UK experts who have contributed to a new report aimed at improving the understanding and treatment of psychosis – a mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that sufferers can experience delusion, paranoia and unusual behaviour and become out of touch with reality.

The report, published by the British Psychological Society Division of Clinical Psychology, says conditions such as schizophrenia can be comprehended in the same way as other psychological problems like anxiety or depression.

It also found behaviours are often a reaction to trauma or adversity of some kind, which impacts on the way people experience and interpret the world – and they rarely lead to violence.

Dr Meddings said: “This is an exciting and important report.

“It shows how voices, paranoia and psychosis may be understood just like any other mental health challenges such as anxiety or depression and how many people live fulfilling lives despite it.”

Sussex Partnership is working to increase access to psychological therapies for psychosis and has been supporting self-help hearing voices groups for more than 12 years.