My loved one is displaying symptoms of early serious mental illness – Where do I begin to find help?
Family members are often the first to observe early signs of serious mental illness, such as symptoms of psychosis or extreme mood changes, in their loved one’s behavior. It’s crucial to identify symptoms as early as possible and seek treatment immediately.
NAMI’s Psychosis page provides information on the condition, current treatments, ways to support recovery, and links to fact sheets that discuss What is Early and First Episode Psychosis, Early Psychosis: What's Going On, What Can You Do, Encouraging People to Seek Help for Early Psychosis, and Early Intervention Tips for School Staff and Coaches. You may also find the NAMI Ask the Expert Webinar: Supporting a Loved One with Psychosis to be helpful.
NAMI’s Schizophrenia Disorder and Schizoaffective Disorder pages provide information on the conditions, current treatments, ways to support recovery and information about supporting yourself or someone else.
NAMI’s Bipolar Disorder page provides information on the condition, current treatments, ways to support recovery and information about supporting yourself or someone else.
If your loved one’s symptoms of psychosis have presented within the past two years and they are between the ages of 16 to 30 years of age, they may qualify for the Coordinated Specialty Care services of a First Episode Psychosis program.
Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) refers to treatment programs designed for people between the ages of 16-30 who have been experiencing symptoms of psychosis for two years or less. Clinical research shows CSC to be more effective at the long-term reduction of symptoms and improvement of quality of life. A CSC program will involve a team of behavioral specialists that work with the client and their caregivers to create a treatment plan involving:
- Coordination with primary care physician
- Recovery-oriented psychotherapy
- Medication management
- Individual and family education and support
- Case management
- Work and/or education support
To find a CSC program in your area, you may wish to consult:
- Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) maintains an Early Serious Mental Illness Treatment Locator as a source of information for family members who are seeking CSC programs across the United States.
If your loved one does not qualify for a CSC program, we suggest using the above list to build your own team. The following link includes sites offering resources for families and individuals, examples of which include (but are not limited to) the Early Assessment & Support Alliance, NAVIGATE, OnTrackNY, and Specialized Treatment Early in Psychosis (STEP).