First Episode Psychosis (FEP) is characterized by disruptions to a person’s thoughts and perceptions that make it difficult for them to realize what is real and what is not.

The disruptions can include seeing hearing and believing things that are not real or having strange persistent thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.  Research has shown that individuals generally have better treatment outcomes when they receive appropriate treatment for psychosis as early as possible following their first experience of these symptoms. The World Health Organization recommends FEP treatment to occur within the first twelve weeks.  

First Episode Psychosis (FEP) County Funding Opportunity:

The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) has announced a funding opportunity for Pennsylvania Counties. This opportunity will allow qualified entities to request funding to apply for or renew Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (CMHSBG) funding to support county FEP programs. Please refer to the FEP guidance document linked below for assistance in completing your applications/renewals.

If you have any questions regarding this FEP Funding Opportunity, please e-mail us at

Symptoms of FEP

Symptoms of First Episode Psychosis may include the following:

  • Hearing, seeing, tasting, or believing things other people do not
  • Persistent, unusual thoughts or beliefs that cannot be set aside or disregarded
  • Strong, inappropriate emotions, or an absence of any emotion
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Sudden decline in self-care
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly

Causes of FEP

There are several factors which may contribute to psychosis:

  • Genetics
  • Traumatic events, such as death, war, or sexual assault
  • Substance use including marijuana, LSD, and amphetamines can increase the risk of psychosis in people who are already predisposed
  • Physical illness or injury, including traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
  • Mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, or depression

Treatment Approach Utilizing Coordinated Specialty Care

Research has shown significant success using a treatment approach known as Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC). CSC uses a team of health professionals and specialists who work with a person to create a personal treatment plan based on life goals while involving family members as much as possible.

CSC has the following key components:

  • Case management
  • Family support and education
  • Psychotherapy 
  • Medication management
  • Supported education and employment

FEP Programs in PA

National and international studies have demonstrated that early intervention and coordination of services for FEP can prevent the long-term effects of psychosis and avoid the disruption of developmental progress in youth and young adults experiencing early psychosis. Currently, using FEP “set-aside” funds from the Federal Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (CMHSBG), Pennsylvania is implementing the Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) model at nine program sites. CMHSBG funding was increased in FY 2015-2016 to allow a 10 percent FEP “set aside” and funding is currently continuing at that level.

Important Dates

  • New applications are due by: Friday, April 21, 2023 by 5:00 PM

  • Renewal applications are due by: Friday, April 28, 2023 by 5:00 PM