May 26, 2005

Early Schizophrenia Detection Programs Starting

Early Detection Program for Schizophrenia and other Psychiatric disorders planned in Canadian province of Saskatchewan

Its great to see that early detection programs seem to be spreading across Canada quite quickly now. It was announced today that the province of Saskatchewan is planning a special program for the early detection and treatment of schizophrenia and other serious psychiatric disorders.

Perhaps one day these types of programs will be rolled out in the USA. If Advocates, parents and NAMI members push hard enough it seems likely that it happen sooner rather than later. I believe that something like this was proposed in the Bush Administration's New Freedom initiative last year - but how long will this take before it is implemented given the current budget deficit? Early treatment of schizophrenia isn't rocket science - the data has been available for all to see for years now - early treatment works (and if there is no early treatment - it costs a lot more to society in terms of jails, court costs, to say nothing of cost in terms of the individual who have schizophrenia.

The newspaper "The Leder Post" of Regina, Saskatchewan reported that the effort is "a program that is desperately needed, according to psychiatrists and organizers.

The South Saskatchewan Early Psychosis Intervention Steering Committee has been working for the last two years, and formally formed as a committee in April, to develop a program that would operate primarily in the Regina Qu 'Appelle Health Region.

... the new director of the program, stated:

   "There's lots of research now that suggests that if you can get to somebody early, and identify them before the disability sets in, then their long-term odds are better,"

The newspaper further reported:

"In the past, psychoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were frequently not diagnosed until patients were in their 20s or older. Hildahl said the disorders should be caught in the earliest stages to provide the most effective treatment.

But getting teenagers into treatment isn't easy because of the stigma that is attached to mental disorders, he added.

One message the committee hopes will assuage the stigma is that psychosis can affect anyone.

Between two and three per cent of people worldwide suffer from psychotic disorders. In Saskatchewan that means that as many as 30,000 people could be affected, according to EPI committee co-ordinator Kathleen Thompson.

Without treatment, those suffering from psychosis may not be able to fulfill their potential at work or in relationships, despite the fact that mental illness does not affect intelligence.

Thompson's primary concern, however, is more grave. Suicide is the leading cause of death among schizophrenics, at about 10 to 15 per cent."

Unfortunately, it sounds as though funding is still an issue:

"Funding would be pooled from a number of sources, according to Thompson. Though none are confirmed she suggested the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region, Saskatchewan Learning, Saskatchewan Health, the department of Justice and Corrections, along with corporate donations could all contribute."


Initially this program sounds great, but my worry is that some of our children will be misdiagnosed.

Once misdiagnosed, this label will stick with them forever.

Also, I have concerns with who will be doing the testing and if a serious mental illness is discovered... then what?

Another problem is how many parents would go into immediate denial if one of their children is diagnosed as having a mental illness.

I just recently read about a teenager committing suicide and the parents blaming the anti-depressants the child was on. The parents are now suing the drug company manufactures.

Was the suicide due to the drug or was the child misdiagnosed as having depression instead of bi-polar or schizophrenia.

I see a lot of problems with this program.

I think more helpful would be for parents to be able to access this information more readily if needed.

The information would have to come from the health department or something similar instead of the drug companies. The drug companies would be immediately suspected for trying to promote mental illness so they can sell their pills.


Posted by: Moeder at May 30, 2005 02:44 PM

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