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First episode psychosis

When a person experiences psychosis for the first time, it is important that he or she receives the right care as soon as possible. Psychosis can be treated, and early treatment increases the chance of a successful recovery.

Press release: New mental health service aims to reach people early

About psychosis

The word psychosis is used to describe conditions that affect the mind when there has been some loss of contact with reality. Symptoms of psychosis may include:
  • Delusions or false and persistent beliefs that are not part of the individual’s culture. For example, people with schizophrenia may believe that their thoughts are being broadcast on the radio.
  • Hallucinations that include hearing, seeing, smelling, or feeling things that others cannot. People with the disorder may hear voices that talk to them or order them to do things.
  • Disorganized speech that involves difficulty organizing thoughts, stopping suddenly and without explanation in the middle of a sentence, and making up nonsensical words.
  • Seeming extremely disorganized or unaware of their surroundings.
Psychosis often begins when a person is in their late teens to mid-twenties but can also begin later into adulthood. Psychosis can be a symptom of a mental illness such as schizophrenia or caused by medications, alcohol or drug abuse. Three percent of people will experience psychosis at some time in their lives, and about 100,000 adolescents and young adults in the U.S. experience first episode psychosis each year.


Navigate is a new program being piloted in Minnesota for a person who has started to experience psychosis. If the person has been prescribed medication for psychosis, they must have been taking the medication cumulatively for less than one year in order to qualify. Through Navigate, a Coordinated Specialty Care team promotes shared decision-making to create a personal treatment plan with the individual served. Using the personal treatment plan, specialists offer psychotherapy, medication management, family education and support, skills training and work or education support.
In Minnesota, there are currently two Twin Cities pilot sites:

The program is a result of a 2008 large-scale research project from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). NIMH found that this care model is more effective than traditional treatment approaches, is most effective the earlier it is received, and can be delivered successfully in the community.


  • Understanding Early Episode Psychosis - Class to learn about the signs and symptoms of psychosis, causes, treatment options and why early intervention is so important. Participants will learn how to advocate for and how to help a young person get back to work, school and achieve recovery. This is a two-hour class for parents or caregivers of youth and young adults.
  • Understanding Psychosis: Resources and Recovery (PDF) - Booklet produced by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Minnesota
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