“I no longer see psychosis as a catastrophe…I’ve been able to accept my diagnosis and not let it define me or my trajectory.”
These words were spoken at the first meeting of our Early Intervention in Psychosis Improvement Network (EIPIN) by Michael who has personal experience of psychosis.
With vulnerability and openness, Michael – and Stephanie, who also had experience of psychosis – brought to life for those attending the meeting what the experience is like, the recovery journey, and the impact and importance of early intervention.
Michael’s words of acceptance and hope had particular resonance for those attending the network meeting, as this is the very outcome we are striving to achieve for everyone who experiences psychosis in Scotland.
What is psychosis?
“Treating psychosis in the early stages can reduce the amount of time a patient needs to spend in hospital, reduce relapses, and leads to more effective and long lasting outcomes.”
Psychosis is characterised by hallucinations, delusions and disturbed thinking. It can cause considerable distress and disability for people affected, and for their families or carers. It’s estimated that there are approximately 1,600 new cases of psychosis in Scotland each year. Psychotic disorders can be extremely debilitating and it’s vital that those experiencing psychosis are treated quickly and effectively. Treating psychosis in the early stages can reduce the amount of time a patient needs to spend in hospital, reduce relapses, and leads to more effective and long lasting outcomes. Research from previous work in Scotland has shown improved outcomes when using a specially-designed model (called ESTEEM), compared to a more generic model, as inpatient stays can be significantly reduced, sometimes by up to 55%.
How the network came about
In the summer of 2019, Scottish Government published the action plan, Our Vision to Improve Early Intervention in Psychosis in Scotland, affirming their commitment to action 26 of the Mental Health Strategy, to improve access to services for those experiencing psychosis.
The Early Intervention in Psychosis Improvement Network is part of Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s Mental Health Improvement Portfolio of work.
By establishing and launching the network with the first meeting, Scotland took its first step in achieving those actions and mobilising a network consisting of health and social care, education sector, third sector, individuals with lived experience and carers.
The first EIPIN meeting was hosted by Healthcare Improvement Scotland with over 100 people from across Scotland in attendance. The aim of the meeting was to raise awareness of the importance of Early Intervention in Psychosis, the current evidence base for treatment, and how that evidence is currently being applied in the ESTEEM service in Glasgow (a community mental health service for people between 16-35 years, who appear to be experiencing their first episode of psychosis). Most importantly, the network will look at the positive impact of early intervention services on people’s lives.
Partnership working to drive improvements in care
“This work will ensure people presenting for the first time with psychosis anywhere in Scotland get access to effective care and treatment, with a focus on early intervention and recovery.”
A crucial part of this programme of work has been to recruit NHS Forth Valley and NHS Highland and their associated Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) to better understand the current provision of EIP services, what’s required to improve services, consider how data can be best collected and optimised, and determine what a good service for people experiencing psychosis looks like for service providers and service users.
I’m delighted to be involved in this important work. The work will ensure people presenting for the first time with psychosis anywhere in Scotland get access to effective care and treatment, with a focus on early intervention and recovery.
The success of the network launch – and the enthusiasm of all those who have stepped forward to be involved – has put us all on a strong footing to deliver improvements and recommendations to change the future for so many people experiencing psychosis in our communities.
Jonathan O’Reilly is an Improvement Advisor within the Mental Health Portfolio of Healthcare Improvement Scotland
To learn more about the EIPIN and how we are progressing the action plan visit ihub.scot or on Twitter @spsp_mh. Get involved in the conversation on social media by following the hashtag #EIPScot.