Early Intervention is Prevention

written by Tina Hall, EpiCenter Director 

Did you know the incidence of psychosis in Northwest Louisiana is about 50-60 new cases annually? By cases, we mean people – people who are living with psychosis which is associated with considerable disability and may affect all areas of life including personal, family, social, educational, and occupational functioning.

Volunteers of America North Louisiana’s EpiCenter is the first and only center in Northwest Louisiana that aims to bring awareness and care to those with first episode psychosis.

So what exactly is psychosis? Psychosis describes conditions that affect the mind. With psychosis, an individual has lost some contact with reality, has difficulty understanding what is real or not, and their thoughts and perceptions are challenged. Some signs and symptoms of psychosis are a drop in grades or job performance, new trouble thinking clearly, paranoid ideas or uneasiness with others, difficulty telling reality from fantasy, social withdrawal, and spending more time alone.

Research has shown that patients who receive early intervention after their first episode of psychosis typically have reduced suicide rates, fewer suicide attempts, a fewer number of hospitalizations and shorter stays. A range of effective care options for people with psychosis exist and at least one in three people with psychosis will be able to fully recover.

Additionally, psychosis is more prevalent in lower socioeconomic groups, Louisiana is one of the states with some of the most impoverished people in the nation, and Shreveport has some of the poorest regions in the state. Thus, the incidence is likely higher here. Providing support and engaging the person with psychosis, their family members, and the wider community is key to providing improved recovery outcomes and a better quality of life for those with first episode psychosis.

Our program emphasizes collaborative treatment and decision-making to promote commitment and engagement. The EpiCenter also aims to address the unique needs and individual preferences of each client to enhance the outcome of treatment. The EpiCenter provides Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) services for first-episode psychosis that include: • Psychotherapy • Psychiatric medication management/primary care • Individual, group, and family education • Case management • Supported employment and education services.

The EpiCenter is open to youth and adults with first-episode psychosis that are within the first two years of onset. Patients may be eligible to participate in the EpiCenter program if they have been experiencing psychosis for less than 2 years, have received a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder, and are willing to be evaluated and treated by healthcare professionals.

For more information, visit our website at https://voanorthla.org/services/behavioral-health/epicenter/

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