Programs dedicated to digital literacy in the use of mental health smartphone apps and to identification and treatment of early serious mental illness were honored this year with APA’s 2021 Psychiatric Services Achievement Awards.

Photo: DOORS Program Director John Torous, M.D.

DOORS Program Director John Torous, M.D., said the program began as in-person classes at clubhouses for patients with serious mental illness but has evolved during the pandemic to include online modules.

John Soares

Since 1949, the Psychiatric Services Achievement Awards have recognized creative models of service delivery and innovative programs for people with mental illness or disabilities.

This year’s Gold Award Winner is The Digital Outreach for Obtaining Resources and Skills (DOORS), a program of the Division of Digital Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. DOORS comprises in-person sessions and online modules designed to boost the knowledge, skills, and confidence of patients with psychiatric disorders with mobile mental health apps and other forms of digital mental health aids.

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“For in-person groups, we have a 100-plus-page PDF manual that helps a facilitator lead the groups, and with COVID-19, we quickly added the online modules as well,” said John Torous, M.D., program director and director of the Division of Digital Psychiatry at Beth Israel. He is also chair of APA’s Committee on Mental Health Information Technology. “Currently we offer DOORS as a hybrid with early lessons in in-person groups and later online. Having the flexibility to offer both online and in-person learning allows us to customize how we offer DOORS to each program we work with. DOORS is not tied to any one app but rather aims to teach people how to be able to use any app that may be useful to them.”

Photo: FIRST Program Director Kathryn Maimone, L.I.S.W.-S.

Kathryn Maimone, L.I.S.W.-S., is director of the FIRST Program at The Nord Center in Lorain, Ohio, for patients with first-episode psychosis. FIRST is expanding to include early identification of other serious mental illness.

This year’s Silver Award Winner is The Nord Center FIRST Program in Lorain County, Ohio. The program director is Kathryn Maimone, L.I.S.W.-S. FIRST Lorain County is a comprehensive outpatient, team-based program aimed at improving the mental health and quality of life for individuals who have experienced a first episode of psychosis. Treatment services include psychiatric care, individual counseling, family psychoeducation, supported employment/education, and case management. These services are provided in an integrated manner by a six-person team. FIRST Lorain County is a partnership between The Nord Center and the Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment Center at Northeast Ohio Medical University.

Based on the success of the FIRST program, The Nord Center plans to expand it to include services for people with other early serious mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, bipolar with psychotic features, severe major depression, and depression with psychotic features. ■

The website for the DOORS program is here.

The website for the FIRST program is here.

Digital Literacy, Early Identification Programs Honored With APA’s Achievement Awards | Psychiatric News

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