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Keywords:

  • early intervention;
  • early recognition;
  • first-episode psychosis;
  • high risk;
  • prevention

Abstract

Aim: The aim of this study was to describe a service operating in Milan, Italy, that provides early intervention for young people aged 17–30 years at the onset and at high risk of psychosis.

Method: Following 2 years of preliminary study and organization, Programma2000 was launched in Milan in 1999. This programme was targeted at early detection and intervention in subjects at the onset of, at risk of, or showing ‘prodromal’ signs of psychosis. This paper contains data on the organization and activities of Programma2000.

Results: The service has been active since its launch and has received 378 referrals as of March 2009, 342 of which were thoroughly evaluated. At entry, patients undergo a detailed evaluation of their psychopathology, personal and social role functioning, and cognitive status, with repeated testing over time in order to multidimensionally assess outcome. Treatment involves cognitive–behavioural psychotherapy, structured and unstructured psychosocial interventions, and pharmacotherapy when deemed necessary. Treatment appears effective in reducing morbidity and improving social functioning.

Conclusion: A team dedicated to the early identification and treatment of young people with early psychosis is a feasible and sustainable extension of the traditional methods of care for people with mental disorders in Italy.