NEWS | September 14, 2015

Behavioral Health Centers of Excellence at UC Davis, UCLA hold "Early Psychosis: Prevention and Early Intervention" Symposium


A gathering of mental health experts from across the nation will examine how evidence-based research can advance treatments — and improve lives — for young people developing serious mental illness is the focus of a daylong symposium aimed at the agencies that most often deliver those therapies: county, state and national mental-health services providers.

Cameron Carter Cameron Carter

The symposium, “Early Psychosis: Science Informing Public Policy,” will be held on Thursday, Sept. 17 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the UC Davis School of Medicine Education Building. It will be attended by representatives from over 30 California county mental health agencies. Keynote speakers include Robert K. Heinssen, director of the Division of Services and Intervention Research at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

The event is jointly sponsored by the Behavioral Health Centers of Excellence at UC Davis and UCLA, cornerstones of innovative mental-health research. Launched in October 2014 with funding from the state’s Mental Health Services Act, the UC Davis and UCLA centers seek to advance mental-health research and policy in California and the nation. The statewide symposium is the first of the two centers' collaborative efforts.

The focus of the conference is preventive treatments and early-intervention for individuals experiencing psychosis, a mental-health disorder that emerges in adolescence or early adulthood. It affects approximately 3.2 million Americans today, distorting their thought processes with delusions and hallucinations and making attending school and working a challenging.

Prevention and early-intervention research identifies the earliest signs of psychosis, as well as best practices in implementing services and support in community-based settings.  To date only a small proportion of California Counties have specialized programs to address this population, despite evidence of improved outcomes and an international consensus of the value of this approach. The symposium features nationally recognized experts on the latest research, best practices, community engagement, outcomes measurement, overcoming barriers and dissemination, and policy implications.

In addition to Heinssen, keynote speakers include former state Senate Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, mental-health leader and the director of policy and advocacy at the UC Davis Behavioral Health Center of Excellence, addressing  “Positive Outcomes: The Need for Data.” Ken Wells, director of the Center for Health Services and Society, the UCLA Behavioral Health Center of Excellence, addressing community engagement and partnerships.

Frederick Meyers
Frederick Meyers

Toby Ewing, executive director of the state’s Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission, addressing “California Perspectives.” Ken Wells, director of the Center for Health Services and Society at the Semel Institute and Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at UCLA, and Loretta Jones, founder and CEO of Healthy African-American Families, will address “Community Engagement.”

The event also features panel discussions of “Best Practices;” “Overcoming Barriers and Dissemination,” and posters describing best practices across the state.

Opening remarks will be offered by Cameron Carter, director UC Davis Center of Excellence, Frederick J. Meyers, vice dean, UC Davis School of Medicine and Peter Whybrow, director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.

The UC Davis School of Medicine Education Building is located at 4610 X St., Sacramento, Calif. The event is free and open to the public, however seating is limited and the courtesy of an RSVP is required. For further information or to RSVP, please contact Kristy Trouchon, administrative director, UC Davis Behavioral Health Center of Excellence,, 916-734-2291.

The UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its research and primary-care programs. The school offers fully accredited master's degree programs in public health and in informatics, and its combined M.D.-Ph.D. program is training the next generation of physician-scientists to conduct high-impact research and translate discoveries into better clinical care. Along with being a recognized leader in medical research, the school is committed to serving underserved communities and advancing rural health. For more information, visit UC Davis School of Medicine at