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Identifying and treating psychosis in CT gets new push from expanded statewide program

An illustration symbolizing mental health disorders.
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An illustration symbolizing mental health disorders.

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A state program to identify and treat psychosis early is expanding statewide.

Mindmap 2.0, a partnership between Yale University’s Department of Psychiatry and the state, will promote a call-in line for the early detection and treatment of psychosis.

Mindmap was first tested in 10 towns in Greater New Haven between 2015 and 2019.

The program, which promoted the early detection and treatment of psychosis using social media, advertisements and other tools, found it cut the duration of untreated psychosis from 10 to five months, said Dr. Vinod Srihari, who founded the Specialized Treatment Early in Psychosis, STEP program, which operates Mindmap.

In Connecticut, he estimates there are roughly at least 500 new individuals annually who will exhibit the early signs of what will end up being a chronic, schizophrenia-spectrum illness.

“Most individuals in usual systems of care can take years to access treatment,” Srihari said.

Care for these populations can be complicated, including coordinating the efforts of family members, teachers, law enforcement and others.

To help people get care more quickly, Mindmap will offer a call-in number to help facilitate clinical services based on where a person lives.

The program is expanding statewide in partnership with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The partnership is an effort to reach all populations experiencing psychosis, including the economically underserved, said Nancy Navaretta, commissioner at DMHAS.

“About 50% to 60% of the individuals with first episode psychosis, who are admitted into our service [through STEP] are on Medicaid,” Navaretta said.

“We are really trying to shorten the delay to treatment for individuals with a group of disorders that we refer to as schizophrenia, and they typically onset with symptoms or signs in the late teens or early 20s,” Srihari said.

Symptoms of psychosis include hallucinations, trouble telling what's real from what's not real and a fear of being pursued by people.

To diagnose psychosis and get access to care regardless of insurance coverage, call Mindmap at 203-200-0140.

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.