California's Approach to Early Intervention and Prevention of Psychosis

The University of California at Davis is one of six sites participating in a national study of the Early Detection and Intervention for the Prevention of Psychosis Program (EDIPPP) supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Seen as a national model, California has created what some argue is the country’s most sustainable system of mental health care that includes an unprecedented focus on early intervention and prevention of severe mental illness in young people. In 2004, a majority of Californians voted in support of the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63), providing the state’s Department of Mental Health its first opportunity in years to support county mental health programs.

Proposition 63 established a 1 percent tax on millionaires, and 20 percent of the receipts support early intervention and prevention programs. This includes outreach to help a range of professionals and families recognize early signs of severe and potentially disabling mental illness and direct those in need to medically necessary care at the earliest possible onset. Experts say the funding generated from this tax has transformed the mental health system in the state, creating a sustainable funding stream that can’t be removed without a vote from the people.

Testing the Model

One of the key questions for EDIPPP was: Can we deliver this model of treatment and make it work in different communities?” says Cameron Carter, a psychiatrist who directs the Early Psychosis and Clinical Research Program at UC Davis.