Psychosis spectrum symptoms often present in teens receiving mental health services, study finds

Psychosis spectrum symptoms often present in teens receiving mental health services, study finds

A new study co-led by Kristin Cleverley, associate professor at the Lawrence R. Bloomberg School of Nursing, finds evidence that psychosis spectrum symptoms (PSS) are frequently present in adolescents receiving mental health services.

From the initial 417 teenagers aged 11 to 24 who participated in the study, 50% met the threshold for psychosis spectrum symptoms, a number Cleverley said was higher than expected and meant that a large number of children were suffering from the disease. Get mental health services with these symptoms.

Cleverley, who is also the CAMH Mental Health Nursing Research Chair, said the novelty of the study is that the researchers are assessing early indicators that may predict whether someone is more likely to develop a psychosis spectrum disorder and examining whether At this point, early intervention with young people may be more effective.

Traditionally, early psychiatric care is initiated at the onset of severe psychotic symptoms, which typically occur in late adolescence. Current methods of identifying children at risk of developing mental disorders are only about 5% effective, but with this study we can begin to assess certain patterns or changes in function that could indicate whether early intervention is beneficial. “

Kristin Cleverley, Associate Professor, Lawrence R. Bloomberg School of Nursing

Psychosis spectrum disorders can be profoundly disabling and are associated with cognitive impairment, long-term disability, and higher rates of suicide mortality than other mental illnesses. Even without a diagnosed psychosis, psychotic spectrum symptoms can severely affect adolescents.

The study is one of three projects in the Toronto Adolescents (TAY) Cohort Study, which plans to follow 1,500 adolescents over five years. The purpose of this cohort study was to better understand a population of adolescents seeking mental health treatment, how their mental health symptoms and functioning change over time, and whether early predictors of psychosis spectrum disorders can be identified.

The study was designed in collaboration with patients and caregivers, in addition to extensive involvement of clinicians. A novel aspect of the TAY cohort study is that young people have access to a patient-facing dashboard of study results that is also integrated into their clinical record.

“We want to ensure that the study is embedded in clinical plans so that study evaluations can be used immediately in clinical practice, including supporting decisions about interventions or services,” Cleverley said.

The longitudinal study will include follow-up visits every six months and will provide researchers with information about whether these teens’ symptoms become chronic or episodic, and whether these changes are related to developmental milestones or environmental stressors or mental health services. related to changes. .

“Our goal with this study is really to better characterize this population so that we can identify new strategies to complement existing strategies for early identification of adolescents at risk for psychosis,” Cleverley said. “This also creates an important opportunity for graduate students and researchers to conduct sub-studies on this sample to conduct further research to improve mental health outcomes in adolescents.”


Journal reference:

Cleverley, K., et al.. (2023). The Toronto Adolescent Cohort Study: Study design and early data related to psychosis spectrum symptoms, functioning, and suicidality. Biological psychiatry.Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

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