The teen years can be stressful for any adolescent, but an episode of psychosis can be downright scary. You may think psychosis is incredibly unusual, but the National Institutes of Mental Health reports nearly 100,000 adolescents and young adults in the U.S. experience psychosis each year. That’s three out of every 100 people.
But what is psychosis? It’s a medical condition that interferes with the brain’s ability to understand what’s real, causing disruptions in thoughts and perceptions. Symptoms of psychosis include hallucinations, delusions, unusual thoughts, disorganized thinking/speech, fixed/false beliefs, and/or disruption of self-care. Psychosis can come on slowly or suddenly; it varies from person to person. Adolescents who experience psychosis may be frightened and confused or withdrawn.
The first time someone experiences this condition, it’s called first episode psychosis or FEP. Recent research has proven early intervention and treatment of first episode psychosis increases the chances of individuals returning to a healthy, productive life. This is why the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division created a program to help youth and adolescents who are experiencing or have experienced FEP. This program is called the Coordinated Opportunities for Recovery and Empowerment (CORE) program. CORE is dedicated specifically to supporting youth and young adults, ages 12-23 experiencing first episode psychosis. CORE is comprised of a five-person team that focuses on providing the services needed to meet the needs of each young adult.
Part of the Behavioral Health Division’s challenge is getting the word out about CORE.
We want to make sure their families know support is available, and that their loved ones can get connected to help they need. If a family or physician reaches out to CORE, we can begin the screening process with the adolescent, and answer any questions individuals or their families may have about first episode psychosis. We can also connect them to resources, usually at little to no cost. Our teams work directly with teens who are struggling. They are dedicated to that adolescent, which prevents the youth from being bounced around from team to team.
CORE is a completely voluntary program designed to work in partnership with primary care physicians to reach people at earlier stages in their psychosis. In doing so, they increase the chances of youth they work with returning as healthy and productive members in their communities.
While psychosis is not preventable, individuals and families can take positive steps to help youth manage their futures and improve outcomes. We also encourage anyone who wants to learn more about the signs of psychosis or want to schedule a screening for their loved one to call the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division’s CORE program at 414-257-7607.