Mental health initiative to help young Montgomery County residents

Montgomery County is one of three counties that will be expanding OnTrack TN, a program focusing on helping youth and young adults who have experienced a first psychosis episode.

The program’s goal is to shorten the length of time younger people are treated once they experience any psychotic symptoms.

This program is being expanded by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Funding for this expansion is coming from federal COVID-19 pandemic response grants.

A team of mental health professionals will lend a hand to people ages 15 to 30, helping them to work toward recovery and meeting their personal goals, according to Kaylee Wilson, supervisor for OnTrack TN-First Episode Psychosis Initiative with the Mental Health Cooperative.

“The first episode program is an innovative early intervention treatment program for young adults who have started to experience unusual thoughts and behaviors or who have started hearing or seeing things that others don’t,” Wilson said.

The program is available to Montgomery County residents only, who may be experiencing schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform, psychosis not otherwise specified, or delusional disorder, bi- polar I or II with psychosis or major depression with psychotic features, according to Wilson.

The team holistically treats the individual, focusing not only on the individual’s mental health symptoms, but also on goals such as completing high school, getting a job, maintaining social relationships or even getting a driver’s license.

Insurance is not necessary in order to receive the assistance, according to Wilson.

“These programs are being offered regardless of insurance status,” Wilson said. “We will be serving a variety of individuals with either private insurance, government insurance such as TennCare, but also people who may not have any insurance.”

This initiative will help people replace the notion that psychosis is chronic with the belief that recovery is actually expected, according to Wilson.

The program contains specialty care components that include:

• Care management

• Supported education and employment

• Psychotherapy

• Medication management

• Family education and support

• Peer support services

“There is so much hope if someone has a loved one experiencing psychosis,” Wilson said. “These services are geared to make sure that these individuals are integrated into the community, working and going to school. We focus on a functional recovery.”

In Montgomery County, the first episode program is still in its very early stages of implementation.

“Right now, we’re spreading the word, we’re doing outreach,” Wilson said. “Later this year, we plan to begin staffing the program.”

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