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Call “FIRST” First

Make a Referral for Early Diagnosis and Treatment for Schizophrenia

Change the path of schizophrenia by making one call: That is what the Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment (BeST) Center at Northeast Ohio Medical University and its community-based partners strive to do through FIRST programs. At locations throughout Ohio, FIRST programs provide early identification and outpatient treatment of psychosis. Research shows that intervening early promotes a faster, more complete recovery from psychotic illness.

FIRST provides a pathway to early diagnosis and intensive, team-based services for individuals with the initial symptoms of psychotic illness. FIRST programs are dedicated to coordinating rapid access to the best treatments and to involving family throughout the whole process. Find a FIRST program in your area.

Each FIRST program has a dedicated phone line for treatment referrals in which a FIRST team leader conducts a mental health assessment. If FIRST is the most appropriate treatment, the team leader will expedite treatment services and enrollment. Individuals can choose from five FIRST treatment choices: psychiatric care, individual counseling, family psychoeducation, supported employment/education and case management. FIRST clients participate in at least two of these treatment choices. Regardless of which treatments clients choose, the treatment team provides coordinated care and monitors progress.

“FIRST differs from treatment as usual for schizophrenia, which is largely confined to medication and does not offer comprehensive, team-based care until standard treatment fails and someone becomes chronically ill,” said Dr. Mark Munetz, The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation Endowed Chair in Psychiatry and professor at NEOMED. “Whereas FIRST reverses the process and provides comprehensive, team-based care up front. There is mounting evidence that intervening early and comprehensively can improve both the long and short-term outcomes of schizophrenia.