By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
The management of psychosis often involves an early intervention team, a team that deals with the first episodes of psychosis. These early intervention teams focus younger age groups of between 14 and 35 years, who are experiencing psychosis for the first time.
The team helps individuals affected by mental illness to get assessed and treated with medication or other psychological treatment. Early intervention teams also offer social, occupational, and educational support to young individuals and their families.
Early intervention is a new approach to managing psychosis that aims to reform the mental health services, particularly in the UK. It is a recent concept that has emerged as a result of research showing that the longer psychosis is left untreated, the more disabling the outcomes of the condition. People are thought to have a significantly improved chance of recovery if they are treated during the first three to five years of the condition, which some consider to be the critical period.
Early intervention is a multi-disciplinary approach. This means it involves specialists from more than one field such as psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, support staff, and social workers.
The early phases of psychosis are also referred to as the cursory phases or prodromal stages of psychosis. Studies have revealed that the use of cognitive behavioral therapy during these critical periods could be effective. This early phase of psychosis is also referred to as an "at risk mental state," as the risk of serious adverse physical, social or legal outcomes is highest during this phase when individuals are particularly vulnerable to premature death, disability, reduced chance of recovery, loss of employment, poverty, homelessness, and malnutrition.
Early intervention teams aim to ensure that therapy is:
- Timely - timing of the intervention is critical for success
- Comprehensive - comprehensive therapy is provided by a team of specialists
- Follows best practice - management is based on best practice guidelines
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc