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Valleywise opens new First Episode Center in Mesa for people experiencing psychosis

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Monday, January 1, 2024 - 2:29pm

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A counselor works with a patient at Valleywise Health’s First Episode
Valleywise Health via Cronkite News
A counselor works with a patient at Valleywise Health’s First Episode Center in Avondale.

Valleywise Health has opened a new First Episode Center in Mesa.

The treatment and support facility will help people experiencing psychosis or other serious mental health issues.

Psychosis can occur at any age and makes itself felt through symptoms such as unusual thoughts, behaviors, fears and suspicions; hearing voices or seeing things others don’t; or withdrawing from family and friends.

But it most often manifests in older teens or young adults. That can make it tricky to detect.

“Sometimes even parents lose contact with their kids, and they don't even know where they are,” said Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association. “But if you've got the ability to address it really quickly and get the right meds on board, then you have a much better opportunity at a good outcome.”

Will Humble
Amber Victoria Singer/KJZZ
Will Humble

For example, early detection can lead to more effective treatments, better quality of life and reduced relapses and crises.

“If you miss that opportunity, then it's a lot harder down the road to deal with that psychiatric illness,” said Humble.

It is also more expensive — an important consideration for the taxpayer-supported Valleywise (formerly Maricopa Integrated Health System), which has operated another First Episode Center in Avondale since 2018.

→ The difficulty — and opportunity — in diagnosing psychosis in young people