The REACH program which stands for Raising Early Awareness & Creating Hope serves youth ages 10 to 25 who are at risk for developing mental illness. It is an innovative, free program for underserved youth and families designed to detect early warning signs and prevent onset of mental illness. The REACH team works with youth who are currently uninsured, those with Medi-Cal or Healthy Families, and those not currently receiving ongoing treatment.
One in four Americans will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives, and 50 percent of all lifetime mental illness develops by age 14, and 75% by age 24, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The pandemic has been a trigger for kids due to the social isolation brought on by online learning or anxiety about family members’ health. For older youth, the pandemic has brought depression, anxiety, addiction and psychosis to the forefront.
“We have seen an increase in stress and anxiety which may lead to early warning signs of psychosis,” says Angela Maldonado Nunes, Administrator for Starlight Community Services which manages the REACH program in partnership with Momentum for Health. “We recognize that mental health symptoms can be scary and confusing. However, we also believe mental illness can be diagnosed in the same manner as asthma, diabetes, and cancer, and it can be successfully treated. Early detection is key. With early, effective treatment, young people can strengthen coping skills, reduce stress, and succeed in school and life.”
Early symptoms of mental illness are often subtle but can be disabling. They might include becoming easily confused or lost, extreme fear for no apparent reason, impulsive and reckless behavior, extreme social withdrawal, and dramatic changes in sleep or eating. Untreated mental illness can lead to issues in school and with friends, learning disabilities, substance abuse, risky behavior and suicide. With psychosis in particular, early detection and treatment is important for avoiding a psychiatric break. Early intervention preserves brain function, social skills and decreases the need for intense treatment later in life.
Anyone (including family members and friends) who would like to learn more about the early warning signs of mental illness and psychosis may call 1-855-273-2248 or www.REACH4SCC.org
SOURCE Starlight Community Services