Delaware CORE Helps Patients Treat—and Prevent—Mental Illness

The local program serves young people with early psychosis.


Published:

Dr. Charles Webb, co-principal investigator with the Delaware Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services, stands with Gwen Derr, project director of Delaware CORE and Christine Hanna-Ronald, clinical director with Psychotherapeutic Services Inc. //Photo by Joe del Tufo of Moonloop Photography

 

Exercise reduces the chance of heart disease, and quitting smoking lowers cancer risk. Few will debate these facts of the body, but others likely question what can be done when the health concerns center around the mind.

“People don’t usually associate prevention with mental illness,” says Gwen Derr, project director of Delaware CORE (Community Outreach, Referral and Early Intervention). “We want them to make that connection.”

The Delaware Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (DPBHS) and the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) have partnered to form Delaware CORE. The unique program serves Delawareans ages 12 to 25 who have symptoms of early psychosis and their families and friends. If left unchecked, early psychosis can likely lead to full psychosis, a severe mental disorder in which people experience hallucinations, delusions and disorganization (confusion when attempting to speak or think).

Through an array of services, Delaware CORE’s providers diligently work to diagnose early psychosis and help to show prevention and recovery from this serious condition can be achieved.

“In future generations, I hope it won’t be a surprise that we can intervene with these issues,” says Christine Hanna-Ronald, clinical director with Psychotherapeutic Services Inc., a provider of clinical services for the program.

A new development

Early psychosis generally develops between ages 12 and 25, a time now considered a “golden window” for the best chances of successful treatment, says Dr. Charles Webb, co-principal investigator with DPBHS. Unlike full psychosis, early psychosis generally manifests with subtle, vague and hard-to-define symptoms. For example, people may hear an odd noise rustling in the background rather than the classic haunting voices. Other signs may include changes in behavior—tendency to isolate from others and a drop in performance at school or work—and changes in thoughts or perceptions—marked suspicion of others and having unusual beliefs.

“It’s all about the brain,” Hanna-Ronald says. “Just like any other organ in the body, there can be illness.”

Several decades ago, European researchers discovered that addressing early psychosis by teaching patients coping skills and problem solving can help to delay, reduce symptom intensity or even completely prevent full psychosis, Webb says.

DPBHS worked with Dr. William McFarlane, who developed the revolutionary Portland Identification and Early Referral Program in Maine, and in October 2014, received a five-year, $5 million grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration to found Delaware CORE, one of the growing number of programs that exist in the country to address early psychosis.

Call to mind

The program began operating in earnest in 2015 and has served approximately 55 patients to date, with many of the referrals coming from middle and high schools. Each person begins the intake process with a prescreen interview over the phone, where one of Delaware CORE’s clinicians will ask general questions about the onset of early psychosis symptoms, medications and any history of hospitalizations.

If that patient shows signs of the condition, the program will set up an in-person session based on the more definitive Structured Interview for Psychosis-Risk Syndrome co-authored by Dr. Barbara Walsh of Yale School of Medicine. Webb calls this step a crucial part of the intervention process. When this assessment comes back positive, it suggests a person has a one in three chance of developing full psychosis.

Delaware CORE’s staff explains the findings with the patient and his or her family, engaging them in a series of joining sessions to see if they want to participate in the voluntary program.

“We perform extensive psycho-education about what’s going on with their loved one,” Hanna-Ronald says. “It helps to demystify everything, builds a rapport and removes blame.”

Delaware CORE tailors its services to meet the specific needs of each person, but main program facets include clinical support, psychiatric support if medication is needed, and educational, vocational and occupational consultation.

“They may be struggling in school or at work because the symptoms interfere with how they process information or stay on task if they’re disrupted by sensory experiences,” Hanna-Ronald says.

In another important part, several families in the program come together for biweekly group sessions to help problem solve their issues and receive continued education from Delaware CORE facilitators, Webb says.

“Support groups for ADHD and substance abuse are widely available,” he notes. “But it’s very possible someone can have early psychosis symptoms and never encounter another person in their school, work or community who has it as well. These multifamily groups can be a relief. They’re all in the same boat and can become a resource to each other.”

Delaware CORE plans to make youth peer support another key component of services available. Once it has formalized the peer role and training curriculum, this support will be offered in DPBHS programs throughout the state.

An uncertain future

Patients generally stay in the program for one to two years. The federal grant covers all services except medication; however, even then, it has a partner at a state pharmacy program that can provide help if they need it.

President Trump’s current proposed budget has eliminated the final year of the Healthy Transition grant, which Delaware CORE falls under, Derr says. Assuming it passes, this means the government funding will cease Sept. 30, 2018, and the team will potentially need to retool its operations.

The program would have to pursue reimbursement through Medicaid, Webb says. This could be problematic, though, because a few effective pieces of the program aren’t currently reimbursable. In particular, he points to their community, physician and school outreach that educates people on early psychosis.

Despite the looming financial obstacle, Webb and the rest of the Delaware CORE leaders remain hopeful they will continue to serve the public and help young people and their families in need across the state.

“We have made headway where people can control their symptoms while maintaining their functioning,” Webb says. “The program lays the groundwork for making this a possibility.”

For more information about Delaware CORE, visit delawarecore.com or call (888) 284-6030.


Youth Advisory Council

The Delaware Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (DPBHS) has allied with the Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to form the Delaware-wide mental/behavioral health Youth Advisory Council (YAC).

A part of Delaware CORE, YAC provides people between 16 and 25 years old, who have experienced the mental/behavioral health system, the opportunity to learn and develop leadership skills and give back to their communities, says Geeta Kotak, youth coordinator of DPBHS. “Youth and young adults will learn that their voices matter and will be provided guidance on how to express their opinions and be heard.”

CORE project director Gwen Derr says the chance to dim the stigma of early psychosis and mental disease in general makes this component of the program very powerful.

“We’re developing something where youth feel comfortable helping each other and getting the word out,” she says.

To become a member of the council or for more information, email geeta.kotak@state.de.us.

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Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

Where:
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View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

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View map »


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THE FIGURE: THE INDICATIVE AND THE ALLUSIVE Group Exhibition  April 1 - August 26, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop with Panel Discussion: 6 - 7 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
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THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE ALUMNI INVITATIONAL A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop, Artist talk at 7:30 PM The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
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This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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GUARDIANS OF THE IMAGE MAKER Group Exhibition & Programs Commemorating The 1968 Riots April 6 - June 29, 2018 Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 2018                      5 - 9 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
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A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
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TRANSIT by Maryanne Pollock January 27 - April 26, 2018Opening Reception: Friday, February 2, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop On Art:  Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | 5:25 - 6 PM Maryanne...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

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Thursday, April 26, 8:00 p.m. Gore Recital Hall David Rose was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and there began his early musical education and violin study. At the suggestion of his first teacher,...

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
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East Coast Garden Center presents: The Spring Festival!  We love celebrating the Spring season, and we invite you to join us! The weather warms, plants break dormancy, and Sussex County becomes...

Cost: free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd.
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Sponsor: Cordrey Companies
Telephone: (302)945-3489
Contact Name: Christine Justice
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Rosemary Castiglioni – Still lifes and interiors painted with a subtle palette; Jim Gears – Vibrant, impressionistic landscapes in oil applied with a palette knife; Richard Hoff – Detailed...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

THE FIGURE: THE INDICATIVE AND THE ALLUSIVE Group Exhibition  April 1 - August 26, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop with Panel Discussion: 6 - 7 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

GUARDIANS OF THE IMAGE MAKER Group Exhibition & Programs Commemorating The 1968 Riots April 6 - June 29, 2018 Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 2018                      5 - 9 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Glory of Stories introduces young visitors to art and the Museum through a story reading followed by an interactive tour of relevant works of art and a studio art project. This program encourages...

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Calling all Doodles!  Pack up your owners and head for Dewey Delaware for the Annual DoodlesinDewey ~ a fun filled time on the beach at a low-key "funraiser" for Food&Friends, a DC based...

Cost: $10-25 suggested

Where:
Dewey Beach
Saulsbury St
Dewey Beach, DE  19971
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Sponsor: Food&Friends
Telephone: 301.467.5523
Contact Name: Amy Scott
Website »

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Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
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Our thoughts and our stage turn to music, mayhem and marriage with the multi-Tony nominated "The Wedding Singer". Shows are at 8pm on April 27 and 28, and May 4 and 5.  There are 2pm...

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
Website »

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Night Ranger, the band that invented the power ballad of the 1980s, brings its classic sound to the SugarHouse Casino Event Center on Friday, April 27, at 9 p.m. Tickets for the band’s 35th...

Cost: $29-49

Where:
SugarHouse Casino
1001 N. Delaware Ave
Philadelphia, PA  19125
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East Coast Garden Center presents: The Spring Festival!  We love celebrating the Spring season, and we invite you to join us! The weather warms, plants break dormancy, and Sussex County becomes...

Cost: free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd.
Millsboro, DE  19966
View map »


Sponsor: Cordrey Companies
Telephone: (302)945-3489
Contact Name: Christine Justice
Website »

More information

Rosemary Castiglioni – Still lifes and interiors painted with a subtle palette; Jim Gears – Vibrant, impressionistic landscapes in oil applied with a palette knife; Richard Hoff – Detailed...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Girl Scout Junior Not just a pretty face! With the Winterthur Garden as a laboratory, earn the Flowers badge while discovering how flowers function and recording your experience in a garden...

Cost: $12

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington , DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information & Tours
Website »

More information

A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

THE FIGURE: THE INDICATIVE AND THE ALLUSIVE Group Exhibition  April 1 - August 26, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop with Panel Discussion: 6 - 7 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

GUARDIANS OF THE IMAGE MAKER Group Exhibition & Programs Commemorating The 1968 Riots April 6 - June 29, 2018 Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 2018                      5 - 9 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

Maker Fest Enjoy a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement. This event features demonstrations from area makers showcasing...

Cost: Admission is $10 for Adults, $5 for Hagley Members and Youth 6-18; under 6 free

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Hagley Museum & Library
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Water is Life Kenya is hosting its annual Water Walk fundraiser Saturday, April 28th at the Newark Reservoir. Funds raised will help complete Water is Life Kenya's clean water project in Kuku, a...

Cost: 10.00-25.00

Where:
Newark Reservoir
Old Paper Mill Road
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: Water is Life Kenya
Telephone: (302) 894-7335
Contact Name: Colleen Leithren
Website »

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Girl Scout Daisy Take a step on your Flower Garden journey during this fun-filled exploration of the Winterthur garden. $10 per girl.

Cost: $10

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 180-044-83883
Contact Name: Information & Tours
Website »

More information

Discover the thrill of printmaking inspired by nature. Using spring plants and simple materials, students will explore the possibilities of organic and geometric compositions with layered shapes...

Cost: $80 Members, $100 Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Calling all Doodles!  Pack up your owners and head for Dewey Delaware for the Annual DoodlesinDewey ~ a fun filled time on the beach at a low-key "funraiser" for Food&Friends, a DC based...

Cost: $10-25 suggested

Where:
Dewey Beach
Saulsbury St
Dewey Beach, DE  19971
View map »


Sponsor: Food&Friends
Telephone: 301.467.5523
Contact Name: Amy Scott
Website »

More information

Saturday, April 28, 2018 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm Wilmington Country Club 4825 Kennett Pike Wilmington, DE   Guests will enjoy a four course seated dinner prepared by award-winning chefs...

Cost: Call for sponsor opportunities.

Where:
Wilmington Country Club
4825 Kennett Pike
Wilmington , DE  19807
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Sponsor: Meals On Wheels Delaware
Telephone: 302-656-6451
Contact Name: Jennifer Halliday

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38th Annual Rare Plant Auction® at Longwood Gardens A benefit that enriches urban neighborhoods through the power of plants. Join us at the 38th Annual Rare Plant Auction® on Saturday, April...

Cost: $125-$600

Where:
Longwood Garden
1001 Longwood Road
Kennett Square, PA  19348
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Sponsor: Delaware Center for Horticulture
Telephone: (302) 658-6262
Contact Name: Lenny Wilson
Website »

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Clark Wilson from East Liverpool, Ohio, is a favorite and master with silent films.  He is the house organist at the Ohio Theater and has recently been appointed to the Music Department staff of...

Cost: $20 Adults, $10 Students, Groups Call 302-995-2603

Where:
John Dickinson High School
1801 Milltown Road
Wilmington, DE  19808
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Sponsor: Dickinson Theatre Organ Society
Telephone: 302-995-2603
Contact Name: Bob Dilworth
Website »

More information

Our thoughts and our stage turn to music, mayhem and marriage with the multi-Tony nominated "The Wedding Singer". Shows are at 8pm on April 27 and 28, and May 4 and 5.  There are 2pm...

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
Website »

More information

Saturday, April 28, 8:00 p.m. Loudis Recital Hall Cap off the day-long Steel Band Festival (in Puglisi Orchestra Hall beginning at noon) with the featured festival concert.   There is no...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loudis Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

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