Creating a Public Health Roadmap for Early Intervention in Psychosis across Massachusetts

Kelsey Johnson, MPH

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center – Program Manager

Scientific Abstract

Background: Each year in Massachusetts, roughly 2,000 people will experience a first episode of a psychotic disorder. Although the World Health Organization recommends a delay of no more than 90 days between symptom presentation and specialized treatment for psychosis, estimates place the current average between one to three years, with an estimated 41% of individuals receiving no treatment at all following an initial diagnosis. As such, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) partnered with specialists in psychosis and public health to develop the Massachusetts Strategic Plan for Early Psychosis (Mass STEP).

Methods: A mixed-methods approach was used to gather information from individuals and caregivers receiving early psychosis services in Massachusetts. First, a survey was disseminated to assess experiences with treatment services and resources. Focus groups and individual interviews were then conducted with a subset of survey respondents. Additionally, two conferences were held in November of 2020 and 2021 to solicit feedback from experts in the field and other community stakeholders. A Strategic Planning Workgroup combined feedback from all sources to develop the Mass STEP.

Results: Six main goals were identified, each tied to a key priority population in the Socio-Ecological Model: 1) Individuals & families who experience psychosis, 2) Communities in which individuals and families live and interact, 3) Group settings that interact closely with high-risk youth, 4) Medical & behavioral healthcare institutions, 5) Specialized early psychosis treatment programs, and 6) The statewide system of mental healthcare for early psychosis. Potential action items are described under each goal.

Conclusions: Through a collaborative and community-engaged effort, we were able to develop a clear set of actions that can be taken to advance early intervention for psychosis across Massachusetts. Further work on this project will include developing a dissemination and evaluation plan for the Mass STEP, and promoting the inclusion of these priorities in all future programs funded or otherwise supported by the DMH.


Live Zoom Session – March 9th

research Areas


Kelsey A. Johnson, MPH, Alisa Lincoln, PhD, MPH, Atsushi Matsumoto, Michelle Friedman-Yakoobian, PhD, Margaret Guyer, PhD

Principal Investigator

Matcheri Keshavan, MD

Affiliated Website