Pioneering mental health service launched in Cork

A pioneering mental health service which aims to address first episodes of psychosis has been launched in Cork.

Mental health service launched in Cork
Sinead Glennon, head of Mental Health Services, CKCH, Dr Karen O’Connor, consultant psychiatrist, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH), Dr Sinead O’Brien, Executive Clinical Director, Mental Health Service CKCH and Professor Jo Smith, Professor of Intervention Psychosis, University of Worcester pictured at a learning event about early intervention for psychosis at Nemo Rangers. Mental health staff in Cork Kerry Community Healthcare are rolling out a pioneering service to address first episodes of psychosis in parts of Cork city and county; Photography by Gerard McCarthy

The RISE (Responsive Early Intervention for Psychosis SErvice) is run by Cork Kerry Community Healthcare mental health services and is one of three pilot sites across the country for Early Intervention for Psychosis.

It is estimated that about 1,500 people every year (mostly young people) develop a first episode of psychosis.

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This service will be available to all service users presenting with a first episode of psychosis on the south side of Cork city and county (a population of 200,000 people). Access to the service is through the local community mental health teams.

International research has shown that intervening at the first episode of psychosis can entirely alter the course of the illness.

Those who use the service in Cork will have access to a dedicated keyworker, psychological interventions, behavioural family intervention, physical health interventions and support to access work or education. They will also have access to a peer support worker who has personal experience of psychosis. The service will be provided for three years.

Head of Mental Health Services with Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Sinead Glennon said the new service will make a very real different to people in need of support at a difficult point in their lives.

“Providing this kind of early intervention can have a significant impact. It supports people to move towards recovery, and to get the most out of life. Cork Kerry Community Healthcare is committed to improving access, and the provision of this new service will certainly advance that priority. I’d like to pay tribute to our staff who have been involved in developing the service for the people of the southside of Cork city and environs, and thank them for their dedication.”

Dr Karen O’Connor said, “For most people this first episode is a prelude to a lifetime of further episodes and suffering that could be prevented if their condition was treated earlier and interventions were maintained long enough afterwards.”

Dr O’Connor added that a wealth of research now shows that early intervention in psychotic disorders reduces the suffering people experience, reduces the risk of relapse and enhances an individual’s recovery.

The main aims of RISE are to:

  1. Reduce delays and inequalities by promoting early detection.
  2. Maximising recovery by providing evidence-based treatments including assertive key working, medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, behavioural family therapy, vocational support and interventions to support physical health.
  3. Prevent relapse by ensuring assertive follow-up and psycho-education of individuals and their families.