April 05, 2007

National Program Started for Preventing Schizophrenia in Young People

A Highly Promising Maine Schizophrenia Prevention Initiative Is To Be Replicated in California, Michigan and Oregon.

Recognizing the tremendous anguish that severe mental illness inflicts upon young people and their families, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced a new national program that builds upon a pioneering initiative in Portland, Maine, for preventing schizophrenia and psychosis in teens and young adults.

The $12.4 million Early Detection and Intervention for the Prevention of Psychosis Program (EDIPPP) is awarding four-year grants to replicate Portland’s approach in Sacramento, Calif.; Ypsilanti, Mich. ; and Salem, Ore.; and to extend the groundbreaking work underway in Portland. The existing Portland Identification and Early Referral (PIER) Program, located at the Maine Medical Center, will also serve as RWJF’s National Program Office for EDIPPP.

“Psychotic illness destroys lives, but we hope to save many of those lives through prevention,” said EDIPPP National Program Office Director William R. McFarlane, M.D. “This new program works in partnership with local communities to identify young people who are vulnerable and keep them from developing serious mental illness.”

In Portland, 86 percent of young people at risk for psychosis who enrolled in PIER had not experienced a full-blown psychotic episode a year later. According to McFarlane, the expected rate would be 50 to 60 percent in that group of young people. (Therefore the data suggest that the PIER program prevents schizophrenia in about 30% to 40% in this high risk group).

“Portland ’s experience offers great hope for protecting young people from the devastation of psychotic illness,” said Jane Isaacs Lowe, Ph.D., senior program officer at RWJF. “The new national program will test this innovative and promising approach so that we can say with confidence that it works and should be replicated across the country.”

EDIPPP is essentially a research program with a public health mission: to prevent psychotic illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The critical foundation for carrying out this mission is the community in which young people live. The program will reach out to teachers, social workers, doctors, nurses, students, parents, clergy, police officers and others who interact regularly with young people and educate them on the early signs of psychotic illness so that they can identify teens and young adults who are at risk. In Portland , nearly 5,000 people have received this training.

The program works with young people ages 12 to 25 who show early symptoms of psychotic illness but do not yet have the disease.

Based on the level of need, young people and their families will receive one of two treatment plans. The experimental plan offers ongoing evidenced-based, psychosocial support and education, treatment, and medication for young people and their families. The comparison plan is for those young people and families at much lower risk of illness. They will receive careful monitoring, support, and referral for further treatment, as needed.

Approximately 2 to 3 percent of youth and young adults develop schizophrenia or a severe, psychotic mood disorder, with most cases developing after age 12. Psychotic illness is crippling: 75 percent of people who have schizophrenia go on to develop a disability and only a small percentage are gainfully employed. An estimated 12 to 15 percent of people who suffer from psychosis commit suicide.

RWJF has a special interest in ensuring and improving the health of America’s youth. In addition, the Foundation actively seeks successful community models for addressing pressing health issues that can be replicated on a broader scale. EDIPPP reflects the Foundation’s commitment in both these areas.

The new EDIPPP sites were selected from only a small number of organizations across the country that are qualified to do this type of work. Community support for the projects was also a key factor in grant selection, McFarlane noted. The four EDIPPP sites are:

* Maine Medical Center (also the National Program Office), Portland , Maine

* Mid-Valley Behavioral Care Network , Salem , Ore.

* University of California, Davis, Sacramento , Calif.

* Washtenaw Community Health Organization, Ypsilanti , Mich.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with diverse groups of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.

Source: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

More Information: See our worldwide list of centers for the early detection and treatment of schizophrenia and psychosis.

Schizophrenia Prevention - List of Actions You can Take.


April 06, 2007
The Passing of Katie Craig '08


On the day this program was announced, not 10 miles away, a young woman tragically took her own life after a rapid decent into mental illness. She was bright, smart, filled with promise and when suddenly confronted with mental illness, slipped away. In the end all the funds in the world may not have saved her.

The potential of early intervention to stem the devastating effects of mental illness is enormous. The tragegy is a system that lets our best and brightest get away and it is this system that presents the far greater challenge. The solution is not to demystify mental illness, but to set up, and perhaps it is a good time for others to demand, a coordinated system of care so vulnerable people get the help they need, when they need it, and that they and their families know where to find it. Once this reliable system of care is set up, one need only to be pointed in the right direction to receive needed, on-going treatment. Otherwise early dectection is just a missed opportunity.

Katie is there to remind us of the too many souls who slipped through the cracks and what an awesome responsibility it is to create a system, not only of early detection, but appropriate and accountable intervention. This system will not only find these at risk people, but in the end, stay with them.

Posted by: Beth at April 8, 2007 08:51 PM

According to Dr.Yolande Lucire, a forensic psychiatrist of New south wales , australia, even babies who are less than one year old are being prescribed Resperedol, serequeal and Efforex to control their anger,incessant crying, sleeplessnes. In USA, AUTISM is 150 per thousand, heighest in world.ADHD, ADD ?
where are we heading?

Posted by: captainjohann at April 11, 2007 09:24 PM

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