During my senior year of college, I interned at the nonprofit organization, PREP San Francisco. PREP (Prevention and Recovery in Early Psychosis) specializes in diagnosis, assessment, and treatment for people with schizophrenia. For those who don’t know, Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and movement disorders.
At this internship, I spread the word about PREP by cold calling high schools and using social media. We focused on calling the high schools because the population that is at risk for having their first psychosis episode is generally youth and young adults between between the ages of 14-35.
Before I worked at PREP, I didn’t know much about schizophrenia. I heard a form of the word on MTV when a show host announced Geri Hall’s (member of the defunct British Girl Power group Spice Girls) debut album Schizophrenic. Then I started hearing that Schizophrenia was often associated with the homeless, which I later learned is not always the case. There are plenty of people who are able to manage the illness through medications and treatment.
At this internship, I learned that early intervention is key to treating Schizophrenia. Benefits include:1.If caught early, it may be possible to prevent the onset of chronic and disabling psychosis. 2. There is a reduction of the burden of psychosis on the individual and society at large. 3. There is a reduction of hospitalization and increased engagement with community services.
I appreciated my time at PREP because it made me realize that when someone is diagnosed with Schizophrenia, it’s not the end of the world. If caught early, it can be a manageable illness.
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