Early Intervention in Psychosis

The HSE National Clinical Programme for Early Intervention in Psychosis is a joint initiative between the HSE and the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland. Psychosis is a broad term used to describe a state of mind in which delusions, hallucinations, or grossly disordered thinking are experienced while in a fully conscious state. Each year in Ireland an estimated 1,500 people develop a psychotic disorder for the first time.

Video: The National Clinical Lead for Psychosis explains the Programme and the importance of early intervention. An actor from UCC Drama Society recounts the story of a young person experiencing psychosis for the first time, being frightened, accessing specialist psychosis service and beginning the road to recovery and returning to college. Names and dates have been changed.

Scope of the National Clinical Programme:

The HSE National Clinical Programme for Early Intervention in Psychosis applies to HSE mental health services for children and adults from 14 – 65 years of age with their First Episode of Psychosis (FEP). For children and adults with an At Risk Mental State (ARMS) the age is limited to 14 – 35 years of age.

For the purposes of this Model of Care, FEP is defined as the first episode of moderately severe psychotic symptoms (i.e. hallucinations and / or delusions with / without thought disorder) lasting for at least seven consecutive days and leading to distress or disruption to functioning.

This includes psychoses of all causes including bipolar psychoses and other affective psychoses as well as psychotic episodes associated with psychoactive substance use. However, confirmed organic psychotic disorders are excluded if they can be more appropriately managed clinically by medical services.

Aims & Objectives:

The key overall aims of the HSE National Clinical Programme for Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP):

  • The early detection of psychosis - First Episode of Psychosis (FEP) and At Risk Mental State (ARMS);
  • The provision of standardised assessments and engagement  with individual referrals to mental health services for the duration of the EIP Programme;
  • The provision of standardised evidence based biopsychosocial interventions in a timely manner for the estimated 1,500 individuals who develop psychosis, as well as for those with ARMS.


  • To optimise the outcome for all service users who experience a first episode of psychosis (FEP), with assertive engagement, prompt evidence based treatment and follow up for up to three years;
  • To improve detection rates and less delays in accessing treatment;
  • To lower levels of symptom severity, suicidality, and death;
  • To lower risks of progression to more enduring stages of psychosis;
  • To improve rates of remission, recovery and relapse prevention;
  • To ensure less hospitalisations and time spent in hospital;
  • To improve satisfaction and engagement with services;
  • To improve levels of functioning (social & occupational) and quality of life;
  • To lower healthcare costs;
  • To reduce physical complications;
  • To increase the early detection of complex needs requiring specialist interventions;
  • To ensure that there is no internal waiting list for any of the evidence based multidisciplinary interventions which should be available to the service user throughout their period of engagement with the EIP service.

Contact Details

National Clinical Lead:Dr. Karen O'Connor
Programme Manager:Ms. Rhona Jennings