Here’s one way to think about how it feels to develop schizophrenia: William R. McFarlane, MD, compares it to driving off a cliff. In this case, the looming cliff is a psychotic episode. Now imagine, he says, that you could stop the process.
That’s what the Portland Identification and Early Referral program, or PIER, in Portland, Maine, strives to do. PIER trains community members to recognize mental health problems in young adults, assesses those referred to the program, provides treatment, counsels families and evaluates the program's effectiveness.
McFarlane is director of PIER. He also is director of RWJF’s $12.4-million Early Detection and Intervention for the Prevention of Psychosis Program (EDIPPP), designed to replicate the PIER model in three other communities and to extend the work currently under way in Portland.