Early Treatment for Mental Health Concerns
A growing body of research supports the beneficial effects of early treatment in the course of severe mental health concerns, such as psychosis. Early treatment provides hope for affording young people who are on a trajectory toward illness the possibility of leading lives of their choosing.
Driven by youth and family input, our program is designed to identify young people at risk and provide them effective services to help them fulfill their own goals and aspirations.
The Maryland Early Intervention Program includes three Centers of Excellence clinics as well as a network of partner clinics that specialize in the early diagnosis and treatment of psychosis.
The Strive for Wellness Clinic, an early identification and intervention clinic, is aimed at identifying young people between the ages of 12 and 25 who are either in full psychosis or at high risk for becoming so, and getting them into immediate treatment. The program provides a continuum of care for those individuals, with clinicians available to provide assessment and offer treatment options.
Treatment is tailored to the needs of the client, but generally, components of treatment include:
- safety planning
- cognitive-behavior therapy
- problem solving
- goal setting
- relapse prevention
- social skills
- treatment for other mental health challenges or substance use
- involvement with family
- consultation regarding medications that can help with mental health
Additionally, program staff work closely with schools, houses of worship, law enforcement, and other communities that come into contact with young people to promote public awareness and decrease stigma about mental illness. The hope is that the program will contribute to a better understanding of psychosis, what triggers it, and how to treat it.
How do you recognize if someone is “at high risk?” Many early warning signs:
- feeling “something’s not quite right”
- having odd perceptual experiences
- jumbled thoughts and confusion
- trouble speaking clearly
- unnecessary fear
- declining interest in people, activities, and self-care
- deterioration in functioning, work/school, hygiene
It should be noted that many people have these experiences and are not at high risk. Generally, it is more concerning if these experiences are distressing or interfere with daily life (school, work, social relationships). Relative to fully diagnosable psychosis, risk experiences are less frequent, less intense, less impairing, and briefer.
Individuals experiencing these symptoms might also frequently struggle with other mental health symptoms, such as mood problems, anxiety, and substance use. If you are in doubt, it does not hurt to give us a call to learn more.
The MPRC First Episode Psychosis Clinic (FEC), an outpatient research clinic, is designed to address the needs of adolescents and young adults between the ages of 12 and 45 who have recently developed psychotic symptoms or illness.
The purpose of the FEC is to work intensively with clients and their families to provide education about the illness, to provide medications and therapy, and to link patients with the resources they may need (housing, insurance, etc.). Transportation can be provided free of cost, based on a demonstrated need.
The FEC is part of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center (MPRC), which is part of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
What is Early Psychosis?
Sometimes individuals have strange and unusual experiences, such as:
- Hearing or seeing things that others do not see or hear
- Having unusual thoughts or beliefs that appear as strange to themselves or others
- Feeling fearful or suspicious of others, sometimes including others they usually trust
- Isolating themselves from family and friends
Experiences like these may disrupt your life. When detected early, many problems can be prevented. The earlier individuals get help, the greater the chance of a successful recovery. The longer individuals go without getting help, the more likely they are to experience greater disruption to their family, friendships, school, and employment. Other problems may also occur or intensify, such as depression, substance abuse, breaking the law, or causing injury to himself/herself. Also, delays in getting help may lead to a slower and less complete recovery.
Experiences such as the ones listed above often begin between the ages of 15 and 25. This is a very critical stage of a young person's life. Adolescents and young adults are just starting to develop their own identity, form lasting relationships, and make plans for their careers and future. Getting help sooner helps individuals recover and move forward to live a life of their choosing.
The Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) Connection Program seeks to fundamentally change the trajectory and prognosis of schizophrenia through coordinated and aggressive treatment in the earliest stages of illness. The RAISE Connection Program is designed to reduce the likelihood of long-term disability that people with schizophrenia often experience. It aims to help people with the disorder lead productive, independent lives by helping with recovery, empowerment, skills training, and personalized support.
The RAISE Connection Program offers an opportunity for individuals experiencing the early stages of mental illness with psychosis to receive comprehensive treatment. The goal of the RAISE Connection Program is to help you cope with these experiences and improve your ability to reach goals you have in life, including wellness, employment, educational and social goals.
What does participation involve?
- Support services from a specialized team for up to two years based on your needs and preferences
- Collaboration with a psychiatrist for medication management
- Individual therapy
- Family involvement
- Help finding a job or educational program
- Setting goals and working toward them with support of the team and your identified support team
Please note that in some of our training and educational materials, we refer to RAISE or RAISE services. This refers to the RAISE Connection Program at the Carruthers Clinic and should not be confused with the larger NIMH RAISE research project.
The Maryland Early Intervention Program Network is a group of providers participating in Maryland’s statewide effort to provide better services for individuals experiencing early psychosis. Members of the Maryland EIP Network receive specialized training from the EIP and participate in supportive services through learning collaboratives hosted by EIP specialists.
Members of the Maryland EIP Network offer a wide array of services for early psychosis. Some partner clinics offer fully coordinated specialty care services using the model developed through the RAISE-IES study. Other clinics are trained to offer varying levels of services that are integrated with the Maryland EIP's consultation and treatment services.
Johns Hopkins Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic/Maryland EIP (EPIC/EIP)
OnTrack Maryland at Family Services, Inc.
Both teams are operational and are accepting referrals of young people with a mental illness with psychosis that have been identified within the last two years.
If you have questions about which program might meet your needs, please contact our centralized contact line at (877) 277-MEIP (6347). A master’s level clinician will be available to meet your needs.
Our assessments provide a cutting edge evaluation of symptoms and concerns, as well as offer evidence-based recommendations for further monitoring and treatment. Our therapists provide care of the highest quality that is driven by client and family input.
Our treatment model is informed by scientific research, and is flexible so that it can be specifically tailored to the individual needs of every individual with whom we work. We take a “bio-psych-social” perspective in our approach, considering biological, psychological, and social/environmental aspects of an individual and family in our care, so as to acknowledge the entire person.
Individuals receiving care from our program can expect:
- Therapists who are knowledgeable, empathic, and genuine in their desire to provide the best care possible.
- Care that is family- /youth-driven, and individually tailored to the client and family.
- An emphasis on helping clients/families understand their challenges in ways that might help with functioning and outcome.
- Top-notch assessments that are informed by a variety of perspectives, and provide recommendations for treatment that are informed by evidence.
- Treatment strategies that help clients manage a variety of symptoms they find distressing or interfering.
- Treatment strategies that strive towards helping clients/families reach their personal goals.
- Attention to concerns such as safety.
- Help with succeeding in school, work, and other social situations.
- Medication consultation.
- An emphasis on strengths and on wellness broadly defined.