People in the Fort Wayne area experiencing psychosis, an early sign of a mental illness, can get the most up-to-date help through a pilot project involving the local Park Center community mental health center.
The Early Break Psychosis Project builds on national research that showed surrounding people with care and support early in the development of their mental illness empowers them in their treatment and helps them recover more quickly and get their lives back on track, said Richard Hite, a psychologist and vice president of adult community services at Park Center, which was one of 34 sites nationally participating in the study.
The national study also indicated patient outcomes improved through use of a team approach to treatment and a specialized focus on the person's recovery goals, Hite said.
From the time they first begin experiencing symptoms of psychosis, young people typically struggle for about 18 months before actively participating in treatment, Hite said.
Schizophrenia, for example, typically begins in a person's teen years to early adulthood, he said. Early symptoms can include delusions and inability to process reality; difficulty in school and relationships; moodiness; loss of motivation; talking but not making sense; and possibly turning to alcohol or drug abuse as a coping mechanism.
The Early Break Psychosis Project, which is based at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, offers care provided by a team of professionals headed by Dr. Alan Breier, a senior professor of psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine, the chief of the IU Psychotic Disorders Program and the director of the Prevention and Recovery Center for Early Psychosis.
Working with Park Center and one other community mental health center in Indiana, Breier's team is evaluating whether it can deliver quality early psychosis care to patients using telemedicine, with some local staff support, Hite said. The Early Break pilot project will continue at least through next June.
Patients and their families interact with Breier's team live via a high-resolution, video monitor system set up at Park Center, said Hite and Alyshia Umber, Park Center's Early Break Psychosis Project liaison. Breier's team also can prescribe any medications patients may need.
If this model for providing care proves successful, it suggests a similar approach can be used to deliver early-stage mental health care to people living in rural or other areas where they have limited access to mental health resources, Hite said.
So far, Park Center has two people participating in Early Break project care, Umber said. Staff would like to have 20 to 25 people taking part to better gauge whether the care model works successfully, Hite said.
People interested in participating in the Early Break Psychosis Project research study can call Alyshia Umber at Park Center at 481-2800, Ext. 2393.
To take part in the study, people must meet the following criteria:
* Age 16 to 30 years
* Primary psychotic disorder of schizophrenia or schizophrenia-related diagnosis
* Symptoms of psychotic illness began within the past two to three years
* No mood disorder diagnosis, such as bipolar
* No evidence of significant drug use
* No severe mental health issues
* A willingness to be engaged (Clients with a higher level of engagement experience better results.)