A new model of care, which aims to improve services for people experiencing psychosis for the first time, has been launched.
Every year in Ireland, around 1,300 adults and 230 adolescents develop a psychotic disorder for the first time.
"A first episode of psychosis occurs when a person experiences moderately severe distressing and disabling psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions and thought disorder, for at least seven consecutive days. This is most often associated with a functional psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia, a mood disorder with psychotic symptoms or a drug-induced psychosis.
"For many young people, this first episode is often followed by a lifetime of further episodes of psychosis with deteriorating mental health and suffering that could be prevented if their illness was identified and treated earlier with interventions maintained over a sustained period of time," the HSE said.
It has developed this new model in collaboration with the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (CPI). The model aims to improve access to services and provide people with the highest quality of care and treatment based on best international practice.
According to the HSE, the model provides a ‘blueprint for the development of early intervention in psychosis services nationally for everyone aged 14-64 who develops psychosis for the first time'. Most cases occur for the first time in adolescence or early adulthood.
The HSE acknowledged that most people affected by psychosis ‘experience long delays in accessing treatment, and when they do make contact with services, engagement is often brief and services fall short in meeting their needs'.
Benefits included in this new model of care include faster access to assessment and early intervention by a multidisciplinary team. A dedicated early intervention in psychosis (EIP) key worker will also be assigned to each service user to help them and their family throughout their time with the EIP programme.
"People can and do recover from psychosis and specialist evidence-based treatment is associated with better recovery. The focus on early intervention to achieve clinical and personal recovery in this relatively young group is key to person-centred care and the future of mental health service delivery into the future," commented Dr Siobhan Ni Bhriain, the HSE's national clinical advisor and group lead for mental health, at the launch of the model.
Also speaking at the launch, the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, thanked everyone who worked on the model's development.
"There is large, growing body of evidence that suggests early intervention in psychosis can significantly reduce suffering, improve recovery and reduce relapse. I hope this service will deliver on these outcomes," he said.
The model of care can be viewed here.
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