Columbia University Medical Center

Preventing Disability from Schizophrenia: The Time Has Come


Recent research on schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders has inspired hope among psychiatrists that early diagnosis and treatment can forestall the disorder’s debilitating effects and foster recovery.

Based on these findings, other countries have already begun to implement early intervention strategies, while the U.S. has lagged behind.

In a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, chair of Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry; Lisa Dixon, MD, professor of psychiatry at Columbia; and Howard Goldman, MD, of the University of Maryland, describe a new model of care that can prevent the progression of psychosis and forestall disability. However, this strategy will require new policies for mental health services and reimbursement if it is to be successful.

They write that the new treatment model

requires financing schemes that are seamless across the transition from adolescence to adulthood, a time frame often characterized by interruption in insurance coverage. In addition, insurance benefits must cover activities targeting engagement and maintenance of community functioning.

Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, chair of Columbia Psychiatry

Jeffrey Lieberman, MD

Psychiatry has within its grasp the potential to avoid the historically disabling outcomes for patients with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders. However, the authors write that the public mental health system must place greater emphasis on interventions for patients in the early stages of the disorder to fulfill this potential.

Click here to read the entire Viewpoint.

Dr. Lieberman also is the president of the American Psychiatric Association.