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Health and Medicine

NEOMED: Early intervention can drastically change the path of schizophrenia
A new $5.5 million grant to the Northeast Ohio Medical University will fund early intervention a key to treating schizophrenia

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Courtesy of NEOMED video
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In The Region:

The Northeast Ohio Medical University has received another $5.5 million to boost early intervention and treatment for people with schizophrenia. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on what’s called the BeST center that’s expanding in Northeast Ohio.

LISTEN: How the BeST Center approaches schizophrenia

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The grant from the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation brings to nearly $13 million the foundation has donated to what’s called the Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment Center.

The center works with people in four counties – Summit, Portage, Mahoning and Trumbull – who have schizophrenia. The key, says center

Three broad categories of symptoms of schizophrenia

Positive symptoms: Often losing touch with reality, hallucinations, hearing voices, delusions and disorganized thinking.

Negative symptoms: These are harder to recognize and include a “flat affect" in a person’s face and voice, a lack of pleasure in everyday living, a lack of ability to begin and sustain activities, and a lack of pleasure in life.

Cognitive symptoms: Subtle things such as having trouble understanding information and making decisions, paying attention or using information immediately after learning it.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

Director Lon Herman, is to step in fast.

“By intervening early, what you’re doing is you’re offering individuals hope and the opportunity     to continue on with their lives and do things that everyone else does, which is go to work, go to school, have a social life.”

The center puts together a team of six people – including mental health counselors, case managers and employment counselors – to work with the individuals.  Elaine Harlin of Child Guidance and Family Solutions says the center works with more than just the individual “to try to get the parents and the families to also understand the disease so that they can better support the health and well-being of their loved one who is suffering with schizophrenia.”

Harlin says the center has been following nearly 70 people for four years. The rate of their returning to the hospital within 12 months of treatment is 5 percent, compared to national numbers that range from 13 percent up to 50 percent.

U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy – an advocate and a consumer of mental health and addiction treatment -- was in Ohio today to celebrate the grant for schizophrenia treatment. But he argues more must be done. And he says the key may rest with veterans.

Kennedy is a recovering alcoholic and sponsor of the mental health parity act. He says the growth of treatment programs in the region where Alcoholics Anonymous was born makes sense. But he also maintains the national attitude toward of funding of mental health treatments must change as well, and veterans returning with PTSD, traumatic brain and other injuries may be the ones to press the point.

“If the veterans win, then we all win. And once again, they’re going to be our freedom fighters because if they can change the trajectory in which this illness is treated, then we’re all going to be the beneficiaries.”

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