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Objective: Preventative approaches to mental illness are becoming a focus of clinical and research settings. To date, however, few clinical programs have been established with this primary aim. This descriptive paper summarises patterns of referral to one service providing clinical care for young people known to be at high risk of developing a psychotic illness.

Methods and results: A 20-month survey of referrals to the service revealed that most patients had a prolonged and circuitous route to assessment. Additionally, a lengthy time period elapsed between the onset of symptoms and initiation of help seeking.

Conclusions: Information arising from this survey may influence the development of strategies to improve access to this service and others aimed at the prevention of psychosis. Further, this information may affect the development of generalised preventative mental health services for young people.