Brown School

Uncertainty leads to treatment delays for young people with mental illness

From the WashU Newsroom

Stigmas, attitudes of self-reliance and misattributing symptoms led a group of young adults experiencing their first episode of psychosis to delay seeking treatment, finds a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

“These factors created a cloud of uncertainty in which individuals experiencing early psychosis and their family members struggled to make sense of what was happening, how and when to seek help, and what to expect from treatment,” said Leopoldo J. Cabassa, associate professor at the Brown School and an expert on mental health services.

Cabassa is lead author of the study “Understanding Pathways to Care of Individuals Entering a Specialized Early Intervention Service for First-Episode Psychosis,” in collaboration with colleagues from Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute — Sarah Piscitelli, Morgan Haselden, Susan Essock and Lisa Dixon — and Rufina Lee of Hunter College. It was published March 1 in the journal Psychiatric Services.

“Our findings indicate that efforts to streamline entry into early intervention services for psychosis should focus on reducing the uncertainty that affected individuals and their family members face when seeking care by improving their experiences with mental health services,” he said.

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