Mind Your Mind

Girl staring PREP identifies and treats young people with mental illness - before their problems become a crisis

Are you or someone you care about having unusual thoughts or difficulty concentrating? Are you hearing things that others don’t hear or feeling like you can’t trust anyone? These types of symptoms are more common than you may think – in fact, 1 out of every 5 teenagers experiences some of these symptoms.

If early symptoms go on for a long time or get worse, they may be the first warning signs of early psychosis, which can lead to severe disorders, such as schizophrenia. This is why it’s important to seek help as early as possible – before they lead to life-destroying diseases. (Psychosis is a term used to describe a mental health disorder when people lose touch with reality.)

Prevention works

Mental illness requires strong prevention efforts and treatment, just like other medical illnesses. Because most adult mental illness begins early in life, detecting and treating mental illness early can have a positive impact on a person’s life, as well as their family, and the community. Research shows that up to 85% of people who experience a first episode of psychosis and receive treatment can recover completely.

Just like medical illnesses, such as heart disease or diabetes, early detection, prevention efforts, and treatment for mental illness can significantly improve how long someone lives and their quality of life.

Research shows that the beginning of serious mental health illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, usually happens to people in their late teens or early adulthood, and that the illness develops very gradually. These early symptoms of psychosis have been overlooked or even worse, misdiagnosed. And most people living with mental illness never receive preventive or early treatment.

It’s only in the past few years that early detection and intervention programs for psychotic disorders have been set up around the world. The early results from these programs show that people at high risk for psychosis can be identified and successfully treated to prevent the illness from getting worse, and improve a person’s social, school and work life.

The road to recovery begins with PREP

San Mateo County’s new Prevention and Recovery in Early Psychosis (PREP) program offers a unique personal treatment plan and services to help each person experiencing early symptoms of psychosis to get their life back on track.

PREP offers services and support for youth and young adults, ages 14-35, to reduce and control symptoms of psychosis and restore some of the mental abilities damaged by the disease – all provided in the community wherever someone needs them.  

While there is no known cure for psychosis, through early diagnosis and effective treatment, PREP’s 5 year mission is to treat most cases of psychosis into remission, allowing these individuals, and their families, to live a fulfilling life.

Medication and therapy can each have positive results in treating early psychosis – but doing them together has been shown to be much more effective. PREP aims to treat people with lower doses of medications while decreasing hospitalizations.  The road to recovery begins with PREP.

Do any of these early warning signs explain what you or someone you love, has been feeling?

Do you often feel that:

  • you can hear or see things that others don’t?
  • you can’t trust anyone?
  • your food may be poisoned?
  • someone is watching you?
  • people or places you know seem different?
  • you have a special ability or super powers?
  • your thinking is unusual or frightening?

Do you have difficulty concentrating, have less energy, are nervous or short tempered, are more sensitive to sounds or light, or have a strong desire to be left alone?

If you, or someone you love, can say yes to several of these questions, PREP may be the right answer.

The first step to recovery is to call and set up a time to talk with an early psychosis therapist about what’s happening to you, or your loved one.

Referral line (650) 504-3374

You can also take the PREP Screening Survey. It’s free and confidential. If the screening shows that it’s a good idea to seek help, the next step is to speak with a clinician who will talk to you about the symptoms you or your loved one are experiencing.

If after an assessment, treatment is recommended, you will already be in the right place to start receiving treatment, and we are here to support you or someone you love through the entire process.

To learn more about San Mateo County’s new PREP program, visit PREPwellness

PREP is located at 1108 South El Camino Real in San Mateo.

Psychosis is a treatable disease, and caught early, it’s possible to prevent or delay a disabling psychotic illness. The sooner you know what’s happening, the better chance you have to recover.