Our early screening and prevention of mental health conditions service is a preventive approach to mental wellbeing. Its aim is to identify mental health vulnerabilities as early as possible to prevent future problems in people who may be vulnerable, and promote good mental health and wellbeing.
At The London Psychiatry Centre, we offer innovative, evidence-based and holistic screening for early signs of mental health conditions in adolescents and young adults who are distressed for the first time by subtle mental health problems. We also offer state-of-the-art screening for those who may have a familial vulnerability for mental health disorders, for example, a first-degree relative with bipolar disorder or psychosis.
There is high familial heritability for several mental health conditions. Children of parents with psychiatric conditions have a 32% probability of developing a mental health condition (Rasic et al., 2014).
Our clinician in this area, Prof. Dr Paolo Fusar-Poli, is skilled in the detection and management of warning signs and vulnerable mental states in young people. We firmly believe that the best treatment to improve outcomes of mental health conditions is early recognition of warning signs, prevention and promotion of good mental health and resilience.
It has recently been demonstrated that the global peak age at onset across all mental disorders is 14 years, with most mental disorders originating before 25 years
(Solmi et al., 2022).
This represents an unprecedented window of opportunity to support young people under mental stress or with familial vulnerability for mental disorders and prevent future problems.
What are the early signs of mental health issues in young adults?
Early symptoms of mental health issues can vary depending on the type of personal vulnerability, but may include having one family member with a mental disorder and showing at least one of the issues listed below:
- Withdrawal from friends and or family
- Low or elevated mood or frequent mood shifts
- Difficulty concentrating at school/college/university and declining grades
- Unusual transitory experiences such as hearing voices or having odd beliefs
- Changes in eating patterns
- Sleeping problems
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- Being worried about their mental health
Seeking help for these emerging mental health problems may be challenging for young people. Our clinician will ensure that patients are made to feel welcome and will facilitate a natural and spontaneous encounter.
WHAT CAN CAUSE THE ONSET OF MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS IN YOUNG ADULTS?
There are a number of factors that may cause mental vulnerability in young adults. These include:
- Family history of psychiatric conditions, such as having a first-degree relative affected by bipolar disorders or psychosis
- Going through a traumatic experience such as abuse or the loss of a family member or close friend
- Educational pressure
- Exposure to harmful content on social media
- Substance use
- Presence of subtle mental health symptoms that are either infrequent or not severe enough to be considered a major mental health disorder
It is important to detect these risk factors and map their effect on mental health, as several of them are potentially modifiable. It is also important to identify areas of mental resilience and strength to promote good mental health. For most mental health disorders, neglecting early warning signs may lead to subsequent aggravation of problems and the onset of more severe mental disorders.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN THE SCREENING FOR EARLY SIGNS OF MENTAL CONDITIONS?
The screening for early signs of mental health conditions involves a holistic approach adapted to meet personal needs and mental health difficulties. A patient using this service will receive:
- Personalised and comprehensive screening for signs of emerging mental health conditions that can detect subtle distress and vulnerabilities, along with resilience factors
- Personalised screening to identify familial vulnerabilities for mental health conditions
- Support for the family to understand more about the patient’s health
Specific activities may include:
- Up-to-date psychometric assessment of subtle or fluctuating mental health problems and warning signs that may signal an increased vulnerability to mental disorders
- Bespoke testing of cognitive functioning and its impact on daily life
- Extended consultation to detect familial vulnerability towards mental disorders (e.g. in first or second-degree relatives)
- Personalised mapping of risk factors increasing vulnerability and protective factors fostering resilience
WHAT PREVENTIVE INTERVENTION IS AVAILABLE AFTER THE EARLY RECOGNITION OF MENTAL HEALTH VULNERABILITIES?
We offer a tailored, innovative preventive mental health care plan focused on reducing mental health vulnerabilities, strengthening personal resilience and promoting good mental health.
Specific activities may include:
- Customised follow-up and clinical monitoring of the vulnerabilities
- Personalised strategies to reduce the likelihood of developing future mental health problems
- Innovative and personalised preventive interventions based on the most up-to-date evidence, encompassing lifestyle and physical health, psychological treatments, psychopharmacological treatments where indicated and agreed with the patient, and physical treatments such as repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation