Early Psychosis 101: Basics for Supporting Students, a 3-Part Introductory Series

About the Series:

Identifying young people at risk for or facing a first episode of psychosis is a major state and national priority due to the recognized benefits of early intervention. Because symptoms generally begin between the ages of 12-25, schools are critical places for identifying those with early symptoms of both psychosis-risk and early psychosis symptoms.

In this virtual 3-part learning series, each session focused on key aspects of early psychosis support for those working in school mental health in a variety of roles and settings. We focused on how to recognize students with early psychosis symptoms, link them to appropriate services, and create appropriate accommodations to support student academic success and mental wellbeing. In addition, methods for addressing the stigma one faces when dealing with these symptoms with peers and school personnel were also considered.

Each 1-hour learning session focused on a specific topic, then addressed attendee-submitted questions. Case examples were also utilized to illustrate key points in recognizing those with early psychosis symptoms, potential interventions, and accommodations. Tools that can be helpful for screening for psychosis symptoms were also shared.

Learning Objectives: 

As a result of their participation in this webinar series, attendees wee able to:

  1. Articulate how recognition of and early intervention for psychosis symptoms supports overall student education.
  2. Explain the continuum of care for early psychosis risk and recognition, treatment models, and how to best access community early psychosis treatment supports.  
  3. Identify  mental health screening tools, with an emphasis on early psychosis screening tools, and explain strategies for using them in school settings for early psychosis symptom identification in students.
  4. Articulate helpful accommodations from the perspectives of Section 504 and IDEA to support those with early psychosis risk or psychosis to derive the full educational benefits of their school experience.  
  5. Explain how stigma can impact early psychosis care and strategies for reducing stigma about psychosis to benefit the school community

Intended Audience:

This introductory-level learning series is geared toward the following school personnel from middle and high schools:

  • School mental health providers, such as school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and other mental health professionals (those hired by the school and those who work for a community organization and come into the school to provide school mental health services)
  • School nurses/school health aides, and other primary care partners working in schools 
  • School educators, administrators, school resource officers, and mental health peer leaders

Session Information:

Session 1 | October 18: Recognizing and Responding to Signs of Risk for Psychosis in Students 

This 60-minute session provided a brief overview of what early psychosis is, including signs and symptoms, how symptoms occur on a continuum, treatment options, the promise of early intervention and common barriers to care, and how school providers can recognize and respond to early signs.

Session 2 | November 1: Hope, Healing and Homework: Empowering Educators in Screening for Psychosis and Navigating School Supports for Students with Psychosis

Returning to school after experiencing psychosis can be challenging and stressful for individuals and families. This 60-minute session covered how educators can screen for psychosis and support families and elementary/middle/high school students in navigating school supports for students with psychosis. We also discussed the purpose of and strategies for approaching disclosure and review school accommodations that may be helpful for supporting the academic success of students with early psychosis and those at risk for psychosis.

Session 3 | November 15:Transition to College for Youth with Psychosis

This 60-minute session is a case-based discussion covering the process of assessing readiness for college, accessing accommodations, and preparing youth with a history of psychosis to transition to college. Many young people are interested in higher education but are unsure of what that may look like after receiving a diagnosis of a primary psychotic disorder. We hope to equip attendees with basic knowledge of psychosis spectrum disorders, considerations for a transition to college, and resources for supporting these young adults in achieving success!

Speaker Lineup:

Sessions were presented by clinicians who work in the early psychosis field and individuals with lived experience related to early psychosis who can speak to the challenges of facing early psychosis symptoms in secondary school settings, as well as strategies to best support those with early symptoms and their families.

Resources of Interest:

We've compiled Early Psychosis-related resources shared with us by our session speakers. These resources can be accessed in the document below. 

Additional Information:

This learning series is presented to you through a partnership between the MHTTC Network and the Psychosis-Risk and Early Psychosis Program Network (PEPPNET)

Certificates of attendance were made available to those who attended 50% (30 minutes) or more of each live session. CEUs are not available for these sessions. 

Spread the word! We invite you to share the series flyer available here. Questions? Please contact Jessica Gonzalez at [email protected].

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