Rutgers University has opened one of New Jersey’s first clinics dedicated to treating psychosis in teens and young adults, the time of life when symptoms usually first appear.
The clinic at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care in Edison, treats patients age 15 to 35 who have had their first episode of psychosis in the last two years. Steven Silverstein, a psychologist who is the clinic’s director, said early treatment for these episodes — which can be indicative of schizophrenia — gives patients the best chance of recovery.
“The longer people live with psychosis,” he said, “the harder it is to treat.”
People who have been showing symptoms for only a few years, Silverstein said, benefit more from certain treatments. Besides the usual medications and therapy, Rutgers is using a research-backed model that provides supportive services to help these younger patients face challenges as they pursue their education or start careers.
“These are things that young people, after a first episode, have said are the most important reasons why they stay in treatment,” Silverstein said.
Psychosis refers to symptoms like hearing voices in your head or having delusions, which are common in schizophrenia. While other psychological disorders can cause these symptoms, Silverstein said that treatment at his clinic is tailored to people whose underlying diagnosis is schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, a related condition.
Rutgers is one of three New Jersey clinics using the new model that opened in the past few months with the help of federal block grant funding. Congress required that states set aside 10 percent of mental health block grant funding in 2016 for early intervention programs like these, and states across the country are opening clinics using similar treatment models.
Oaks Integrated Care opened one of the other New Jersey clinics in Cherry Hill in December to serve the southern part of the state.