It is estimated that approximately 100,000 adolescents and young adults in the U.S. experience an initial episode of psychosis each year. Some symptoms include: auditory hallucinations; visual hallucinations; paranoid feelings; unusual beliefs; disorganized thinking; and/or changed behavior.

David Cicero

Offering a full complement of therapeutic and assessment services by a multidisciplinary specialty team, the clinic is designed for individuals ages 15 to 24 who are within the first two years of experiencing psychosis.

OnTrack Hawaiʻi, a collaboration between the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Psychology Department in the College of Social Sciences, the John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Adult Mental Health Divisions, is expanding its services as the state’s coordinated specialty care treatment clinic for youth experiencing a first episode of psychosis. The program will open a new clinic in the Ala Moana Building this month.

“OnTrack Hawaiʻi is based on early psychosis intervention and treatment models that have a long, successful history in Australia and Europe and are spreading throughout the United States,” said David Cicero, associate professor of psychology in the College of Social Sciences and clinic director. “These models use a team-based approach and patient-centered shared decision-making to develop a coordinated specialty care plan to treat affected youth and young adults. Our clinic, which is the first of its kind in Hawaiʻi , aims to help clients improve their quality of life by helping clients get back on track at work, school, and relationships with friends and family.”

Cicero said that youth experiencing their first episodes of psychosis are often frightened and struggle to understand what is happening to them. “Research has shown that these experiences are best treated through early, structured intervention tailored to fit the needs of each client,” he said. “The key is a collaborative environment where individuals and their OnTrack Hawaiʻi team select the best mix of support services and treatment options. This increases the chances that the client will remain in treatment and improve over the long-term course.”

Early stage care produce best results

According to the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), schizophrenia, which is characterized by psychosis, usually begins between the ages of 16 and 30. It develops in stages and RAISE research has found that care provided at the earliest stage produces the best results.

In the U.S., an average of 74 weeks elapse between the time of the first episode of psychosis and engagement in appropriate treatment, while other countries have reduced this delay to a much lower 2 to 7 weeks. OnTrack Hawaiʻi̵s goal is to reduce this timeframe.

Hawaiʻi youth and young adults experiencing symptoms of psychosis can find the following services through OnTrack Hawaiʻi:

  • Individual and group therapy.
  • Medication management using a shared decision-making model.
  • Assistance and support to find employment or to return to school.
  • Assistance and support for affected families.
  • Case management.

OnTrack Hawaiʻi offers its services to individuals regardless of ability to pay. Its team works with clients to arrange coverage for services such as medication and other related services. For more information about OnTrack Hawaiʻi, call (808) 956-6289 or email

—By Lisa Shirota