MD Opens Center To Deal with Psychoses That Might Lead to Violence


Maryland was one of several states that reacted to last year's mass shooting in Newtown, Ct., by boosting mental health spending or tightening gun control laws for people with severe mental illness. Unlike the other states, reports Stateline, Maryland also is focusing directly on psychosis, the symptom that makes violence more likely. The Maryland General Assembly approved Gov. Martin O'Malley's $1.2 million request to establish a “Center for Excellence on Early Intervention for Serious Mental Illness.” The program aimsat identifying people between the ages of 12 and 30 who are in full psychosis or at high risk for becoming so, and getting them into immediate treatment.

The hope is that the program will contribute to a better understanding of psychosis, what triggers it, and how to treat it. It is an effort to intervene as early as possible, to salvage lives that might otherwise be lost. “There's a lot of evidence to suggest that the sooner a person with psychosis gets into treatment, the better the outcome for that person's well-being, for that person's chances of living and working in the community, for them living the life they want to live,” said Jason Schiffman, a psychologist at the University of Maryland/Baltimore County and a member of the new center's staff. The unusual aspect of the program is that it doesn't target a particular illness, such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, but rather a symptom associated with those diseases in their most extreme form.

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