NEWS | June 25, 2021

UC Davis Health receives nearly $4 million to train mental health clinicians

Statewide program is aimed at early detection of psychosis and mood disorders

(SACRAMENTO)

The nationally recognized UC Davis Early Psychosis Programs at UC Davis Health received a four-year, $3.9 million contract from the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC). The award provides support for training and technical assistance at statewide programs. The goal is to identify and treat people in the early stages of psychosis or a mood disorder.

Early detection and treatment of psychosis or a mood disorder leads to better outcomes. Early detection and treatment of psychosis or a mood disorder leads to better outcomes.

“Early detection and treatment lead to a better course for the disease,” said Tara Niendam. Niendam is an associate professor and the executive director of the UC Davis Early Psychosis Programs. “We know that early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma lead to better outcomes. The same is true for mental health conditions like psychosis,” added Niendam, the principal investigator for the contract.

The UC Davis team will work with programs funded through California’s Early Psychosis Intervention Plus Program (EPI Plus) to assess current program needs, conduct training and help the programs provide the highest quality of care in their communities.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to partner with new and established early psychosis programs across the state,” Niendam said.

Every year, approximately 100,000 adolescents and young adults in the United States will experience their first episode of psychosis. Symptoms of psychosis can include hallucinations, such as seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear, and delusions.

Unfortunately, there is often a wide gap in time between that first episode and the start of treatment, a delay that leads to poor clinical outcomes for young people – and, for some, lifelong consequences.

On average, it takes 18.5 months from initial symptoms of psychosis for someone to receive a diagnosis and treatment.

The new award is designed to significantly decrease that time.

“We know that early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma lead to better outcomes. The same is true for mental health conditions like psychosis.”

— Tara Niendam

“The onset of psychosis can be a confusing and scary time for individuals and their families,” Niendam said. “We believe access to top-quality care can give them and their communities new hope for recovery.”

UC Davis is collaborating with UCSF and Stanford University to provide support and training to all aspects of early psychosis program implementation. “Our goal is to share our knowledge and support shared learning between programs so that more Californians can access excellent early psychosis care,” Niendam said.

The EPI Plus Program was established in 2017 to shift the emphasis in California’s mental health system to early detection and intervention with the goal of improving the lives of Californians with mental health needs before those needs escalate and become severe or disabling.

EPI Plus will support program development in Alpine, Kern, Lake, Mono, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Sonoma and Nevada counties.

The Early Psychosis Programs at UC Davis Health are nationally recognized as a leading provider of early psychosis care. The clinics in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences provide coordinated specialty care in an outpatient setting that incorporates targeted medication management, individual, family and group psychosocial interventions, case management services, and supported education and employment. The goals are early diagnosis, treatment, and disability prevention.