Early Intervention Key to Success with Mental Illness www.montrealgazette.com/health/Early+intervention+success+with+mental+illness/8437557/story.html j_braca94 Psychology of Mental Health Summer 2014, Centennial College

by j_braca94 on June 4, 2014 - 8:17pm



The article begins by introducing a man named Mathieu Quintal, a 26 year documentary filmmaker and a master student of communication. He article then follows by presenting us with Mathieu’s story of discovering he has bipolar disorder. Back when he was in university, at  20 years old, Mathieu claimed he had felt an extreme high that made his mind race and stopped him from being able to sleep. The high lasted three days, until Halloween came and Mathieu started stripping in his living room and dancing naked, while he was hosting a Halloween party. This alarmed his roomates, and they called the ambulance. Quintal later found out that his episode exemplified classic signs of bipolar disorder. He claimed that on his way to the hospital, he didn’t think he had done anything wrong and that is all made perfect sense in his head. Once at the jewish, the hospital transferred him to the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, where he was part of a specialized program called PEPP –Montreal (Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychoses. Quintal eventually graduated from the program, becoming one of the 538 people who graduated from the program. According to Ashok Malla, founder and director of the program, the earlier mental health problems are treated, the better the chances of patients regaining control of their lives. Up to 80-85 percent who get intense early treatment tend to get better and go back to their families, school or work. Malla, as well as the program founder is a McGill University professor of psychiatry who holds the Canada research chair in early psychosis, also explains that 75 % of mental disorders start between the ages of 14 and 25. He went on to add that early indications of a person possibly having mental disorders include symptoms such as hearing voices, feeling paranoid about being followed or suspicious that other are talking about them, withdrawing from friends, depression and a drop in school grades.  Malla also went on to say that the Douglas has taken big steps in trying to improve early detection of mental illness within people. The doulgas has reached out to hospital emergency department workers, as well as schools, community health clinics and churches. The program offers medication and therapy to its patients, as well as stress management and housing and employment assistance. Nurses, case managers, psychiatrists see the patients several times a week in the first couple of years (1-2), then less intensely for the next 3 years. Malla goes on to say that early intervention coupled with intense therapy reduces suicide rates, which are between 5 and 10 percent in the first five years of diagnosis with a psychotic disorder. He also adds that 15 % of people seen at the Douglas have a family history of psychosis, but that there is no way of actually knowing who is at risk. He claims that illness is a combination of genes and environment, referring to identical twins, which have a 40 percent chance of developing the same illness, but that there is still something of 60 per cent chance that is protecting the two, or the one in the case where one of them has it. When Quintal was first admitted to the Douglas, he refused to takes medication or undergo treatment. He changed his mind on the whole idea after he went through a period where he had suicidal thoughts. Quintal sais that” its not just a part of your body that doesn’t work so well, it’s really who you are”. Today Quintal openly talks about his illness, and is grateful for having been cured.




I Very much enjoyed the article. I thought McGill professor Ashok Malla shed light on the topic of mental illness. He explained why early diagnosis and treatment can be crucial to a patient, including statistics like 80-85 per cent of patient that are diagnosed early and receive intense treatment can go on to live a “normal” life. I also enjoyed the article because it really hit home the point that everybody can have mental health issues, and that there can be symptoms as early as 14 years old. This shows that mental illness is a problem that anybody, of any age can face, and that it is a real problem that has to be dealt with. I also liked the fact that Malla made sure to say that everybody can get it, and that although there is a 15 per chance of you having a mental health issue if there have been some in your family, there is really know way of knowing who will have a mental health issue. I was also impressed by The Douglas’ aggressiveness towards mental health issue, and how strong they feel about getting people with problems the help they need. It also impressed me of how committed they were to their patients, providing them with care up to 3 years after they are treated, following up making sure their patients are still doing fine. 

About the author