Specialized program available for young people experiencing psychosis


By Karla Sluis
Special to The SUN
Axis Health System (AHS) launched a program this week to help young people during the initial stages of mental illness. The First Episode of Psychosis program (FEP) is designed to benefit regional youth ages 15 to 29 who have experienced an onset of psychosis within the last 24 months.
FEP is a supportive, wraparound program developed for youth who would otherwise be less than successful in traditional outpatient programming due to severe and persistent mental illness. Once screened and approved for the program, people can receive intense wraparound services that include: individual and group therapy, family support, case management, vocational/educational support, community and in-home services, medication management, and peer specialist support.
The goal of FEP is to effectively stabilize and reduce symptoms through early, intensive intervention. This includes helping people go back to or stay in school, secure and maintain employment, live independently, and develop and maintain relationships. The program offers services for two to three years, based on needs and preferences.
Psychosis affects three in 100 people and usually occurs for the first time between the ages of 15 and 30. It’s a broad term that covers many different symptoms and experiences, including hearing or seeing things that others do not, having thoughts or beliefs that appear as strange, withdrawing from family and friends, feeling fearful or suspicious of others, and disorganized speech and erratic behavior.
AHS received funding this year from the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health to administer the FEP Program. FEP services are available to people with private insurance, Medicaid or no insurance. AHS offers a sliding fee scale for those who qualify. FEP services are based at Columbine Behavioral Healthcare in Durango, but the team can meet with patients across the five counties of southwest Colorado. Community members who wish to schedule an appointment may call 259-2162.