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Excellent Care for All

Early Psychosis Intervention (EPI) Standards

Health Care Challenge

Psychosis is a debilitating condition marked by delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thoughts and bizarre behaviour. Each year, 12 out of every 100,000 Ontarians experience their first episode of psychosis. Onset of the condition primarily strikes individuals between the ages of 14 to 35.

Early intervention is crucial because delays in treatment negatively impact patients and their families and result in poorer clinical outcomes. One in 10 people, who have experienced psychosis, commit suicide within five years of onset.

“Delayed treatment leads to greater problems,” says Anne Bowlby, mental health and addictions manager at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. “It contributes to distress and increased psychological difficulties, substance abuse, disruption of study or employment and puts a strain on relationships, social supports and the cost of managing the condition,” Bowlby explains.

Real Change In Action

For more than a decade, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has collaborated with a range of partners and stakeholders within the mental health sector to make early intervention programs for psychosis a priority. In 2004, the ministry released the Program Policy Framework for Early Intervention in Psychosis.

In the spring of 2011, the province released the Early Psychosis Intervention Program Standards to serve as a guide to ensure high quality services and supports in this field. It is essential that treatment not only begin early, but that it also be comprehensive, integrated and effective.

Although Ontario’s early psychosis intervention (EPI) programs vary in how they are structured and operate, the new standards will ensure evidence-informed care, treatment and support. All EPI programs funded by the province are required to develop policies, procedures and protocols that reflect the standards.

Better Quality, Sustainable Care

By supporting the early diagnosis and treatment of psychosis and consistently using an evidence-based approach, the standards will enhance the quality of care and patient outcomes. The standards encourage a client-centred approach, which focuses on the needs of patients and their families. A comprehensive early psychosis intervention program can :


Effectively treating psychosis during early onset will help improve the quality of life of individuals afflicted by psychosis and significantly increase their recovery. It will lessen the burden that protracted mental illness exacts on individuals, families, the health care system and society as a whole.

Learn more about the Early Psychosis Intervention (EPI) Standards.

Contact person :
Catherine Ford
Senior Policy Advisor, Mental Health and Addictions
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Tel: (416) 314-1963
Email: Catherine.Ford@ontario.ca

For More Information

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