Psychosis is a symptom. A symptom is not an illness in itself, but an indicator that something more chronic or severe may be going on. Psychosis is a profound experience of losing touch with reality. During psychosis, your everyday thought patterns are disrupted and you may have trouble telling what is real or not real.

While going through psychosis, you may experience false beliefs, see or hear things others do not, speak in a way others can’t understand, have out-of-body experiences, feel strange sensations, and act in odd or erratic ways. During psychosis, you may have a lot of trouble sleeping, withdraw from others, feel depressed and anxious, and find it difficult to perform daily tasks. Most people who experience it themselves find psychosis to be frightening.

In the field of mental health there is an acronym: FEP. FEP stands for “first episode psychosis”. It refers to the first time someone experiences a significant and overwhelming psychotic episode. FEP rarely occurs suddenly or out of the blue. There are usually some warning signs.

According to NAMI, these are some of the most common warning signs to look out for:

  • A worrisome drop in grades or job performance
  • Trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Suspiciousness or uneasiness with others
  • A decline in self-care or personal hygiene
  • Spending a lot more time alone than usual
  • Strong, inappropriate emotions or having no feelings at all

Teenagers and young adults seem to be most susceptible to experiencing psychosis for the first time. Experts in the field do not know why psychosis occurs, but some of these factors or life experiences may bring someone to a tipping point:

  • Genetics
  • Trauma
  • Substance use
  • Physical illness or injury
  • Mental health conditions

It’s widely accepted in the mental health field that early detection and treatment of psychosis improves positive outcomes. When psychosis goes untreated, it can lead to damaging alcohol or drug use, suicidal behavior, unintentional incarceration, and compounding issues with one’s mental health.

Nine Programs in Massachusetts for First Episode Psychosis

There are high-quality programs for early psychosis all over the country. In the state of Massachusetts, there are nine programs serving those experiencing psychosis for the first time. All nine of these programs are listed on the website: MAPNET: Massachusetts Psychosis Network for Early Treatment. The nine programs are:

ServiceNet in Northampton, MA

Their program, called PREP, serves men and women between the ages of 16 and 30 years old. They can be reached by calling 413-585-1300.

Psychotic Disorders Specialty Clinic at Community HealthLink in Worcester, MA

They have two programs: the STEP program for early psychosis and a clinic that treats ongoing psychosis and related disorders. They can be reached by calling 508-373-7835.

The Collaborative Pathway in Framingham, MA

They provide outpatient crisis support and ongoing treatment for someone experiencing psychosis. They can be reached by calling 508-628-6300.

Specialized Team for Early Engagement and Recovery (STEER) in Bedford, MA
This program offers military veterans services for first episode psychosis that combines the coordinated care approach with the resources of the VA system. They can be reached by calling 781-687-3909.

OnTrack at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA
McLean offers outpatient treatment for psychosis for adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. They can be reached by calling 617-855-4194.

Recovery in Shared Experiences (RISE) in Somerville, MA
Their program offers coordinated and comprehensive services for someone experiencing first episode psychosis. To reach them by phone, call 617-591-6097.

Developmental Neuropsychiatry Clinic in Boston, MA
Through Boston Children’s Hospital, they offer outpatient services for first episode psychosis and other conditions. They can be reached by calling 617-355-6680.

Prevention and Recovery in Early Psychosis (PREP) in Roxbury, MA
Offering outpatient services for someone experiencing first episode psychosis. They can be reached by calling 617-652-9038.

Finding Help In Your State

If you or someone you know is facing a psychiatric crisis right now, you can call 911 or call a mental health hotline. Crisis Text Line is a great resource for getting immediate support and guidance.

If you do not live in Massachusetts, but want to reach out to an early psychosis program in your state, be prepared to ask them these questions about their approach to treatment:

Eight Questions To Ask Any Early Psychosis Program

  1. How do you include family and others important to the person at the center of concern in the treatment process?
  2. How do you encourage dialogue within the person’s network of support?
  3. Do you listen deeply, especially to the person at the center of concern?
  4. Do you take time to understand and to let natural resolutions occur in order to avoid extreme or unnecessary interventions?
  5. Do you pay attention to the strengths of the person at the center of concern?
  6. How do you practice shared decision-making? (What is shared decision-making?)
  7. How do you ensure informed consent? (What is informed consent?)
  8. When medication is used, do you practice collaborative psychopharmacology?

If you would like our support in finding and accessing early psychosis treatment programs for your loved one, do not hesitate to call or email us today:

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