Massachusetts Launches New Strengths-Based Early Psychosis Program


ServiceNet, a mental health and human service agency in western Massachusetts, received a three year, two million dollar grant to launch a program designed to support young adults who have recently experienced their first episode of psychosis. The Prevention and Recovery Early Psychosis (PREP) program is funded by the Massachusetts department of mental health and is designed to treat psychosis as a symptom, not an illness, resulting from other health problems, substance abuse, trauma, or extreme stress.

“Our expert team of clinical and support staff specialize in building on people’s strengths and interests to help them find happiness again and reconnect to their goals in life,” said Anne Hopkinson, PREP Program Director. “We see each program participant as a whole person on the path toward recovery, instead of as a patient with a lifelong illness.”

ServiceNet is headquartered in Northampton, MA and the PREP program will be run out of Holyoke. PREP is designed to treat young adults age 16-30 who are experiencing a break from reality where they may see, hear, or believe things that others cannot.

PREP professes to work from the assumption that “when a young person experiences a serious mental health crisis for the first time, surrounding him or her with needed therapy and support is the best way to prevent the condition from progressing.” To this end, PREP emphasizes the importance of healthy social relationships and provides individual, group, and family therapy, as well as job training and placement, substance abuse treatments, and traditional psychiatry.

Last month, the controversial and high-profile RAISE study reported on the superior outcomes of a similar treatment program, which focused more on therapy, support, and social connections than on high doses of antipsychotic drugs. While RAISE study authors purported to have used much lower than normal doses of antipsychotics, the data on this has not yet been forthcoming. Similarly, the PREP website indicates that “medication will not be part of every person’s road to recovery,” but that they “may be helpful in calming or dulling uncomfortable experiences.”

To learn more about the PREP program, click here →