May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The federal government estimates that mental illness impacts about one in five adults. A local agency is partnering with a healthcare leader in our region to launch an innovative new treatment program to help local teens and young adults dealing with psychosis.
What is Psychosis?
Symptoms of psychosis can be alarming for both patients and their families. Psychosis is a loss of contact with reality, which may include hallucinations or delusions. People may see, hear, feel or believe things that aren’t real.
“Many times, if a person has had one experience with psychosis, another one is likely to occur and could become more severe,” said Anni Starcher, nurse supervisor with Community Counseling & Wellness Centers (CCWC) in Marion. “With our program, we hope those suffering from a persistent mental illness can recover and live a full, happy life.”
The POINT Program
CCWC is partnering with The Ohio State University EPICenter (Early Psychosis Intervention Center) to launch the nation’s first hybrid model for early psychosis treatment for residents of Marion and Crawford Counties.
A team of six staff with specialized training is ready to help Marion and Crawford County residents between the ages of 15 and 35. It’s open to anyone who had their first psychotic episode in the last 24 months. The episode should not have been caused solely by drugs or alcohol.
Participants may have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression with psychotic features or personality disorders. If a person is not formally diagnosed, the team will help them get an assessment.
How the POINT Program Works
The Psychosis Outreach Intervention Navigation Team (POINT) works with The Ohio State University staff to provide a variety of health care services. This includes clinical and medical evaluations, individual therapy, education and support for family and friends, medication management and job or school success plans.
“We are looking forward to helping as many people and families who are suffering from a debilitating mental illness. We are hoping they can live life to the fullest,” Starcher said. “Living with a severe mental illness is not easy and many have been challenged with homelessness, being victims of crime, and fear. Research shows that quality of life is positively affected when psychosis is treated early.”
With team members from a variety of health care services including therapists, nurses and case managers, the team can coordinate services and make sure patients who are struggling do not fall through the cracks. CCWC encourages patients to get help as soon as possible.
“Mental illness should be treated as any other disease, such as diabetes. Treatment helps. Those suffering from mental illness should not feel ashamed to get medical treatment,” Starcher said. “The longer the illness is left untreated, the greater the disruption to school or job success, relationships with family and friends and overall independence and happiness.”
The project is just getting started serving its first patients. Anyone who would like more information can contact CCWC at (740) 375-3473 and ask for a POINT team member. CCWC is located at 320 Executive Drive in Marion.
A History of Making a Difference in Marion County
While CCWC’s name changed from Marion Area Counseling Center, the staff has served the Marion community for decades.
“For more than 44 years, our agency has served children, families, and adults in Marion County. Our new POINT program is an expansion of services and we are proud to have been chosen by OSU and the State of Ohio because are a rural community,” Starcher said. “We have worked hard to collaborate with our community to help those who are hurting or addicted or lost; such as law enforcement, shelters, hospitals, the United Way, and Crawford-Marion ADAMH [Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health] Board.”