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MindMap expands service area; seeks to treat more young people with psychosis

October 09, 2015
by Christopher Gardner

MindMap, the 8-month-old campaign to promote early detection and treatment of psychosis in young people, has expanded its service area to include two more towns in the New Haven area.

The grant-funded program, launched in February by the Specialized Treatment Early in Psychosis (STEP) clinic at the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC), now serves clients in Milford and Branford. That is in addition to the services already being provided to 16-35 year olds in New Haven, West Haven, East Haven, North Haven, Woodbridge, Hamden, Orange, and Bethany.

Program directors say they had the resources to expand MindMap, which has gotten 43 patients into early treatment for psychosis since February.

Psychosis is a mental health problem that causes people to perceive things differently from those around them. It manifests itself in hallucinations or delusions, and is often caused by schizophrenia, medical illness, or the use of drugs or alcohol.

MindMap, which is free to patients for two years, has used a visible public awareness campaign to promote its services and convey to people that early detection of psychosis is a less expensive and more effective way to promote long-term recovery.

Barbara C. Walsh, PhD, who assesses and treats patients at STEP, said it costs $290 per week to treat people at the STEP clinic.

The cost is $6,840 if the same person is admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a week, she said.

“I don’t think anyone could disagree this is a really cost effective way to get young people care,” she said of the program.

Vinod Srihari, MD, Associate Director of Psychiatry at Yale and Director of MindMap, said many young people resist care for their symptoms because of the stigma, and because they are not aware of the resources that can help them.

Walsh said parents, teachers, and friends of young people should watch for sudden changes in their behavior.

People with early symptoms of psychosis tend to withdraw from activities and relationships, fall behind in tasks, and isolate themselves socially, she said.

“All of a sudden, even the things I was really passionate about before, they just don’t mean anything to me anymore,” Walsh said of people with psychosis.

STEP has followed more than 150 young people with psychosis, and in their first year of treatment patients were 50 percent less likely to be hospitalized, and 90 percent were working or going to school.

STEP and MindMap have a comprehensive care system in place for people who call or visit CMHC to seek treatment. Teams coordinate medication, counseling, social skills training, and job coaching. In most cases, families are involved in treatment.

“I think the great thing about our treatment is it’s not one size fits all,” Walsh said. “It’s a menu of treatment options that people can choose from.”

MindMap recently held a workshop in New Haven where it urged representatives from community organizations in and around the city to refer young people who have symptoms of early psychosis.

It also has reached out to area police departments, colleges, clinicians, judicial and correction department representatives, and political leaders to make them aware of the MindMap brand.

MindMap was designed in collaboration between Yale University and the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The program is based on a successful campaign in Norway known as TIPS, which gets young people into care at the first sign of psychosis.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on October 09, 2015