Disorientated or Psychotic Behaviour


The main feature of psychotic thinking is “being disconnected from reality.” Psychological illnesses that involve psychotic features often have an onset between the late teens and early 30s.


Symptoms include:


  • speech that makes no sense

  • extremely odd or eccentric behaviour

  • significantly inappropriate or an utter lack of emotion

  • bizarre behaviour that indicates hallucinations

  • strange beliefs that involve a serious misinterpretation of reality

  • social withdrawal

  • inability to connect with or track normal interpersonal communication

  • extreme and unwarranted suspicion


Bipolar disorder involves periods of serious depression which can be combined with periods of extreme euphoria and frenzied thinking and behaviour, the latter of which can reflect a poor connection with reality. A person with bipolar disorder can appear psychotic.


What you can do


  • Speak to the student in a direct and concrete manner regarding your plan for getting them to a safe environment.


  • If the incident occurs during business hours, accompany the student to the Advice & Counselling Service where they may be able to access emergency psychiatric support. 


  • If it happens after office hours, follow college safeguarding policy and precedure and escort the student to an appropriate memebr of staff 


  • If the student is highly impaired, call 999.


  • Recognise that psychotic states can involve extreme emotion or lack of emotion, and intense fear to the point of paranoia


  • Recognise that a student in this state may be dangerous to self or others




  • Assuming the student will be able to care for themselves


  • Agitating the student with questions, pressure, etc. (“You have to do something about yourself, as you are really upsetting others.”)


  • Arguing with the students unrealistic thoughts. (“Don’t think that; it makes no sense and you know it’s not real.”)


  • Assuming the student understands you


  • Allowing friends to care for the student without seeking professional advice.


  • Getting locked into one way of dealing with the student. Be flexible


  • Assuming the family knows about the student’s condition


  • Assuming that the student has a family or a network of support

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