News and Media

ServiceNet awarded Department of Mental Health contract to
support young adults in recovery from psychosis

NORTHAMPTON – When a young person experiences a serious mental health crisis for the first time, surrounding him or her with needed therapy and support is the best way to prevent the condition from progressing. Thanks to a three-year, $1.5million contract from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, ServiceNet – an innovative mental health and social service agency headquartered in Northampton – recently launched its Prevention and Recovery Early Psychosis (PREP) program to do just that.  Located in Holyoke, and focused on the needs of young adults age 16-30 who have recently experienced their first episode of psychosis, PREP is the only program of its kind in western Massachusetts.

In an episode of psychosis, a person has a break from reality during which they may see, hear, and believe things that aren’t real. Approximately 3 in 100 people will experience such an episode at some time during their lives, and young adults are at increased risk because of hormonal changes in the brain that occur during puberty. Psychosis is a symptom, not an illness, and it can be the result of a mental or physical illness, substance use, trauma, or extreme stress.

The PREP program helps individuals stabilize their lives, recover, and resume functioning in their communities.  "Our expert team of clinical and support staff specialize in building on people’s strengths and interests to help them find happiness again and reconnect to their goals in life,” said Anne Hopkinson, PREP Program Director. “We see each program participant as a whole person on the path toward recovery, instead of as a patient with a lifelong illness."

Reflecting on this approach, one participant noted that, "PREP is like a haven where I can fully be myself and explore who I want to be in a safe and warm setting."

PREP staff members offer a wide range of evidence-based services including individual, group, and family therapy; wellness activities; substance abuse treatment; vocational counseling; and psychiatry.  Within a supportive therapeutic environment, created together by program staff and participants, they emphasize the importance of healthy social relationships in a person’s recovery.

"After our child's hospitalization, the PREP program provided us with peace of mind,” reported the parent of an individual in the program. “They helped answer the most terrifying questions and filled the abyss between hospital and recovery by supporting our child and family with respect, compassion, flexibility and expertise in a safe, stimulating and structured environment."

Most people think of psychosis as a sudden break from reality, but there are often warning signs that precede an episode. These may include: a worrisome drop in grades or job performance; trouble thinking clearly or concentrating; suspiciousness or uneasiness with others; a decline in self-care or personal hygiene; spending a lot more time alone than usual; strong, inappropriate emotions; or having no feelings at all. 

PREP Open House December 8th

Those interested in learning more about the PREP program are invited to attend an open house on Tuesday, December 8th from 4-7pm at 1236 Main Street, Holyoke.  No RSVP required; for more information, contact ahopkinson@servicenet.org.

ServiceNet offers programs throughout western Massachusetts, providing individualized, effective mental health care with proven outcomes. For additional information about mental health services available to young adults and their families, visit www.servicenet.org.  

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ServiceNet is a member of the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers, a statewide association of health and human service agencies. This organization is widely recognized as the official voice of the private provider industry.  Use their website to learn more about the importance of human services, contacting your legislators, and much more.