Spotlight on Early Intervention in Psychosis

OK, so it’s been around a while now, but Early Intervention in Psychosis is still one of the more modern approaches towards treating psychotic illnesses.

An EIiP team is made up of care co-ordinators, psychologists, psychiatric nurses and psychiatrists who deal specifically with people who have experienced their first episode of psychosis. They typically work with people within a certain age range (such as 14 – 35 years old) and typically work with the service user for 3 years.

Their function is to facilitate recovery from psychotic episodes and illnesses. As studies have shown that the longer a psychosis goes untreated the worse the prognosis is, the aim of the team is to intervene as soon as possible and provide treatment in the form of assessment, medications, psychological services and social care. They will also support a return to normal social function, such as returning to work or education.

Here in the UK the EIiP team is a part of major service reform in treating mental illness. The guidelines state that as well as working with 14 – 35 year old for the first three years of their illness, they should aim to employ one care co-ordinator for every 10 to 15 clients, with each team taking on a caseload of 120 to 150 cases.

I’ve been under the care of the Surrey EIiP team for coming up on three years (we’ve just started to talk about where I’ll be signposted next), and my experiences with them have been great. Unfortunately the team I’m with seems to have a high turnover of care co-ordinators – I’ve had six in three years, some changes were due to circumstances such as a change of work location and a house move though – but despite the regular change of staffing, I’ve had the same psychiatrist throughout. I’ve also found that every care co-ordinator has taken the time to read up on my notes and get a thorough understanding of my case before meeting me for the first time.

As part of my treatment plan with EIiP I’ve spent time attending sessions with a psychologist. The EIiP approach is holistic and looks to solve underlying issues as part of the treatment of the illness. Therapy involved a lot of talking and examining patterns of behaviour as a result of learned beliefs, which is typical of the CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) approach.

Getting referred to an EIiP team was a speedy process for me as I was in crisis at the time of my referral, but typically a referral can take up to 21 days. Whilst in crisis, the team works hard to keep the service user out of hospital. This can mean involving the Home Treatment Team (who make daily home visits to monitor the client’s state-of-mind and can refer on to inpatient care if necessary), or making use of Crisis Beds in mental health care homes.

Studies have shown that within two years, people who have used EIiP services have fewer relapses, less admission to hospital and have less severe symptoms. Feedback from service users suggest that EIiP teams are effective and have been rated highly for the support they provide.

My personal experience has been positive, and I am not looking forward to moving on from the support I’ve received whilst under their care. I can highly praise the team for what they have done for me in the last three years.

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Spotlight on Early Intervention in Psychosis

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