Report: Critical Need for Mental Health Prevention

NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 11, 2009 Contact: Dr. Steven Adelsheim, 505/272-0770 ALBUQUERQUE, NM – In a report released last month, the National Research Council (NRC) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) urged the federal government to make prevention of and early intervention for mental, emotional and behavioral (MEB) disorders in young people a national priority. According to the report “interventions before the disorder occurs offer the greatest opportunity to avoid the substantial costs to individuals, families, and society that these disorders entail.”


It is estimated that 1 in 5 youth struggle with mental health issues, and that the annual cost to the U.S. of these disorders is $247 billion. Further, it has long been established that most MEB disorders begin in childhood or early adulthood. Thus, prevention efforts aimed at children and youth can have the greatest impact in either preventing a MEB disorder entirely or in significantly reducing its impact on the individual and their family.

One such promising prevention and early intervention program is located here in Albuquerque, NM. The Early Assessment and Resource Linkage for Youth (EARLY) Program is part of an international initiative aimed at reducing psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression) in young people aged 12-25 who are at the highest risk of developing such a disorder. Psychosis refers to symptoms including hallucinations, delusions (false beliefs) and disorganized thinking and behaviors. These symptoms can be particularly devastating to a young person and their families. It is estimated that 3 percent of people will experience a psychotic episode at some time in their lives.

The University of New Mexico Department of Psychiatry and the Mind Research Network joined forces to create the EARLY Program. EARLY integrates the newest evidence-based treatments with state-of-the-art brain imaging and genetics research. According to the IOM report, combining prevention with brain imaging and genetics research, such as the EARLY Program offers, constitutes an area of greatest promise for the future prevention of mental illnesses.

Bernalillo County’s EARLY Program is one of six national sites that are part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Early Detection and Intervention for the Prevention of Psychosis Program (EDIPPP), and is supported by a grant from the McCune Foundation.

To learn more about the warning signs of serious mental illness and the EARLY Program, visit www.earlyprogram.org or call 1-888-NM-EARLY (663-2759). To learn more about the IOM report on prevention, visithttp://nationalacademies.org/morenews/20090213.html.

The NRC and IOM report was requested by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

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