Four Rivers Behavioral Health has a new program to treat adolescents and young adults with early-onset psychosis. The iHope Program is designed to work with clients to develop an individualized program for treatment of early-onset psychosis in youth. Psychosis most often occurs for the first time between the ages of 15 and 25. Early Identification and intervention can help reduce symptoms, severity, and duration of psychotic episodes and is key to helping adolescents and young adults deal with psychosis.

According to the DSM 5, characteristics of psychosis include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and other abnormal behavior like speech and movement difficulties. Other behaviors can include trouble reading, understanding complex sentences or trouble speaking.

Four Rivers Public Affairs Specialist J. Patrick Kerr said one percent of the population will experience psychosis. He said often individuals don’t seek treatment due to the fear or stigma of a mental health diagnosis and tend to wait before seeking treatment until as many as 18 months after the initial symptoms.

IHOPE Program director Beverly Craig said psychosis typically occurs for the first time between 15 to 30 and can lead to hospitalization, which she says can derail education or employment. “A young person having to leave all they’re familiar with – their family, their community, their friends, and go into a hospital setting is very frightening for them – especially if they’re in the midst of a psychotic episode.”

A goal of IHOPE is to keep young people out of hospitals. Craig said young people experiencing psychosis for the first time often don’t know what’s going on with them. “If they do have some idea of what’s going on, they’re fearful or they’re afraid they’re going to be labeled or stigmatized as crazy or have some negative connotation so they often don’t seek help.”

Craig said IHOPE clinicians will offer services tailored to clients and their family members while working on educational or career goals. “Providing services in the community where the person is comfortable is a much better alternative than sending somebody 50, 60 or hundreds of miles away to receive services and treatment.”

Clinicians will receive evidence-based training in cognitive behavior therapy and will also offer alternatives to medication should the client and family want other ways to manage symptoms. She said young people sometimes don’t want medication due to potential side-effects.

Clients will schedule weekly therapy appointments and family members will also undergo some training. The program offers peer support specialists, too, people who have also had psychosis and are in recovery who can talk to young people about their experiences. A focus in the treatment will be managing education, career and life goals.

Four Rivers has 400 individuals between 15 and 30 who have a psychotic diagnosis in the Purchase Area, according to Craig.

She continued, “Every year, around 100,000 adolescents and young adults in the U.S. will experience their first psychotic episode. We want to be there to provide help from the very beginning so that these young people can have a healthy, happy life.”

The program is funded through a $300,000 grant from the Kentucky Department for Health and Human Services Mental Health Division with a plan to be self-funded after two years through money set aside by Four Rivers and insurance reimbursements.

The iHope Program for early onset psychosis treatment is just one of many services for adults, young adults, and children offered by Four Rivers Behavioral Health.

In addition to the iHope program, Four Rivers Behavioral Health offers traditional counseling and psychiatric services as well as programs and services to treat substance abuse issues, opportunities for group therapy sessions and a variety of treatment options for other mental health concerns. The organization’s Center for Specialized Children’s Services has a team of clinicians who focus specifically on children’s mental health issues and includes the area’s only board certified child psychiatrist.

Additional services are available from Four Rivers Behavioral Health for those with Intellectual/Developmental disabilities including a day training program, case management services, supported employment and more.

Four Rivers Behavioral Health is a private, not-for-profit agency that for more than 50 years has provided comprehensive mental health, substance abuse, and developmental/intellectual disability services to clients in Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, McCracken, and Marshall Counties.

For more information about the iHope Program or any of our other children’s services, contact Four Rivers Behavioral Health at 270.442.7121 or visit the company’s website at www.4RBH.org.

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