Beyond the Clinic Doors: Harnessing the Promise of Community Partnerships for First Episode of Psychosis Programs in the United States

Sarah Pakenham1, Nicole Cotton1,2, Joseph Bona1,2; 1DeKalb Community Service Board, 2Emory University School of Medicine

The DeKalb Prevention & Early Intervention Program (PEIP) is a community-based treatment program for young people who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis (FEP) in a large, urban region of the Southeastern United States. The program is informed by the evidence-based Coordinated Specialty Care model (Heinssen, Goldstein & Azrin, 2014). Team composition, interventions, and treatment goals are focused upon the unique needs and preferences of each patient. The PEIP incorporates peer support, including preservation of patient contact in the community, to enhance engagement of youth and their families—an important component of FEP services (Addington et al., 2013). This model has been shown to aide in recruitment, staff education, and sustainability in an urban setting. The PEIP is strengthened by key community partnerships which represent local constituents with common interest in FEP and social welfare. These important relationships are organized into a Community Partnership Collaborative (CPC) which is chaired by a well-respected advocate and champion of innovative, recovery-based service. Other significant members of the CPC include a local medical school, a research university, and the area’s largest public hospital. Further, legislators and peers from the community advise and advocate on behalf of the PEIP—ensuring a recovery-focused, person-centered approach with a strong community orientation. The PEIP is primarily funded through a federal grant administered by Georgia’s mental health authority. The importance of model selection and broad community partnership in developing a successful FEP program in the U.S. public sector will be highlighted (including patient demographics and preliminary outcomes).

Topic Area: Service System Development and Reform

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