NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels reports from California on how to identify young people with mental illnesses before their problems become worse. The Prevention and Recovery in Early Psychosis program, or PREP, based in San Francisco, is designed to identify and treat young people showing early signs of psychosis or schizophrenia. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, psychosis is a loss of contact with reality which can include false beliefs about what is actually occurring or who someone is (delusions) about seeing or hearing things that aren't real (hallucinations) and schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it difficult to know the difference between real and unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses and to behave normally in social situations.
The National Institute for Mental Health states that one in four adult Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year and one in 17 has a serious mental disorder. Unfortunately, finding and treating those people is difficult because traditional psychotherapy isn't always successful. Bob Bennett, CEO of Family Services Agency of San Francisco, developed PREP as an approach to identify schizophrenic patients early, before major symptoms arise, and to treat the disease.
Funding for PREP and other mental health programs in California are from a statewide initiative called Proposition 63, passed by voters in 2004. The money goes to pay for increased treatment and innovative approaches to early intervention which has raised more than $6 billion so far. California stands in contrast to most other states, which have cut mental health programs to the tune of more than $2 billion since 2009. This year, 10 states are planning on slashing their mental health budgets.
"We actually believe that medication is more effective if you don't over medicate and if you use only one drug. Beyond that, though, the goal is to train people in lifestyle changes that can minimize the effects of the disease and make it manageable." Bob Bennett, CEO Family Services Agency of San Francisco
"It's been probably a year or more than a year since I heard the last voices, but as of now, no voices, no paranoia, normal energy. And I don't have to even take any medications. I have a good social life. I play sports. I'm interested in listening to and making music. I like going to school." Andrew, PREP patient
1. What is a mental illness?
2. How are mental illnesses detected?
3. What is behavior therapy?
1. If you know someone who has symptoms of a mental illness discuss ways in which you can provide them assistance.
2. Why do you think state governments are cutting mental health funding from their budgets?
3. If you were elected to your state's government how would you prioritize mental health funding?