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First Episode Psychosis and Family Support

Overview of Problem
Early psychosis is a frightening and isolating experience for both the individual and family. Unfortunately, there is a gap in both knowledge and resources across the state for first episode psychosis identification and treatment. Today, a young person who experiences the onset of psychosis has a life expectancy that is nearly 30 years shorter than that of the general population. One in ten of these young people will commit suicide. The rest live with a four-fold increase risk of dying prematurely from diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Compared to their peers, young people with psychosis are at increased risk of unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, and social isolation.

Our vision is to develop an intervention to support families of youth and young adults who are hospitalized for a first-episode of psychosis.

We will work with the new UW Medicine Behavioral Health Institute at Harborview Medical Center and Seattle Children’s to implement and enhance a proven model of Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) that provides the services needed for youth and young adults to have the best chance of leading a full and productive life. This approach includes medication, evidence-based psychotherapy, and educational, vocational support and family support, resulting in fewer symptoms, better quality of life, fewer hospitalizations, higher rates of employment or enrollment in school, and less family disruption and distress.


Specifically, we will adapt and implement a successful "Parent Advocate” program to support the transition between inpatient and outpatient CSC care, a time of great stress and substantial risk for individuals and their families. We will train family members with lived experience to support the families of youth and young adults experiencing a new episode of psychosis through education and skill building, connecting them to available resources, and making sure patients do not fall through the cracks during the transition from hospital and emergency room care to outpatient care.

Next Steps
We are holding a series of family focus groups to develop recommendations for a First Episode Psychosis family care transition program.

Get Involved
Please contact Maria Monroe-DeVita, PhD ( for information on how to get involved in developing a family support program for youth and young adults experiencing a first episode of psychosis.


Laura Crooks

Maria Monroe-DeVita, PhD

Psychosis Consultation Line
Creating a Digital Community

as of October, 2019

  • Conducted 9 focus groups across Washington with nearly 60 families to understand their needs when loved ones with FEP have been hospitalized – data are being used to develop the Family Bridger model. 

    • One focus group was completed in Spanish with Latinx families.

    • Planning a 10th focus group with the African American community and communities of color.

  • Assembled a coordinated specialty care team at HMC to provide comprehensive care for youth and young adults who experience a first episode of psychosis.

  • Recruited a new Director of the Behavioral Health Institute at Harborview.

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