Locals Look to Treat Early Psychosis

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MEDFORD, Ore. – Teens suffering from severe mental health conditions are closer to getting the help they need in Southern Oregon.

Jackson and Josephine counties are applying to become part of a state program called EASA, or the Early Assessment and Support Alliance, which experts say could help prevent a lifetime of anti-social or even violent behavior for dozens of local teens.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness claims that young adults are the highest risk group for a psychotic episode. About 3 out of 100 people age 15-25 will develop those symptoms.

If it goes untreated, it can lead to delusions, hallucinations, and disconnect from reality.

“Mental illness is chemical. It’s biological,” said Stacy Brubaker, Division Manager with Jackson County Mental Health. “So for a lot of them, most of them, it’s lifelong.”

Brubaker says EASA is meant to be a pre-emptive strike, helping teens to identify sources of trauma or signs of delusional episodes and understand how to cope.

The state has $1.8 million set aside for counties to put together this program, and Jackson and Josephine are applying to become a part.

The money would help pay for a team of therapists, peer counselors, addiction specialists, and more – an investment Brubaker says is well worth it.

“Given all the incidents of violence, and a lot of them happen around this age group, I think people are really interested in trying to figure out how we provide better services to this transition-aged population,” said Brubaker.

Right now, 28 kids in both counties qualify for treatment in this program. It would be the first time a resource like this has ever been available to them.

Jackson and Josephine mental health and several private programs have joined to submit their application by November 18th. If they get accepted, hiring, training, and client work can begin in March or April.