Early Intervention

The phrase “Early Intervention” most commonly refers to “Early Intervention in Psychosis.” To read more about “Early Intervention in Psychosis” services, click the link below.

However, the phrase “Early Intervention” can apply to recovery from any mental illness. *The BC Early Intervention Study (1998) found that on average, three years elapses between the time a young person first experiences symptoms of schizophrenia and the time he or she accesses help. For young people with mood disorders, the average time was seven and a half years. The reasons are complex. Without enough information to recognize the signs of mental illness, people delay seeking help. When they do, they may find that their family doctor isn’t adequately trained to recognize the signs of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, and may mistake those disorders for depression or substance abuse. In school, mental health problems might be mislabelled as behavioural issues. Then, when someone goes to the Emergency ward, if he or she is well enough to ask for help, it may be assumed he or she is not to be sick enough to need it. All of the preceding circumstances contribute to delays in seeking service, and those delays keep people from getting prompt and proper diagnoses and treatment.

The study found that education is the top contributor to illness self-management and recovery. Both clients and their families requested education that is counselling-based, rather than fact-based. Learning from someone who has “been through it and recovered” was the most powerful type of information, they said. It was also found to be important that people connect with community supports early on. In many cases clients were not offered community support until symptoms had recurred a number of times.

*Information taken from the BC Early Intervention Study (1998) from CMHA, BC Division.

Early Intervention in Psychosis

The experience of psychosis has very profound impacts on the individual and their family members and friends. A first episode of psychosis most often occurs in adolescence or early adult life. An experience of psychosis at this stage has great potential to derail educational, work and social goals. A response that specifically considers the key developmental stage of those experiencing an initial episode of psychosis is critical.

Symptoms of psychosis include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and disorganized or bizarre behaviour. The overwhelming majority of first episodes of psychosis will occur among young people between the ages of 15 and 34. This text is taken from the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care’s document entitled “Program Policy Framework for Early Intervention in Psychosis”. The report also indicates the services dedicated to early intervention are growing in Ontario and worldwide.