About First Hope - Early Identification and Intervention to Prevent Psychosis

Our mission is to reduce the incidence of mental illness in Contra Costa County through community outreach, education, identification and early intensive intervention with young people at risk for psychosis and their families.

First Hope is an innovative treatment program that provides comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services for Contra Costa County adolescents and young adults.

We serve residents between the ages of 12 and 25, who are having significant psychological symptoms and a decrease in usual functioning, suggesting they may be at risk for developing psychosis. This period of time is referred to as “Clinical High Risk”. We provide psychosocial intervention, supported education and employment, case management services and targeted medications, with the goals of early diagnosis, treatment, and disability prevention.

The program is part of the Contra Costa County Behavioral Health Services and funded by the Mental Health Services Act as one of the Prevention and Early Intervention Programs. First Hope is a Portland Intervention and Early Referral (PIER) Model program, supported by the PIER Institute at the University of Maine with training and supervision provided by William McFarlane, MD and his team.

Recent evidence indicates that the risk of developing a major mental illness can be dramatically reduced by early identification and intervention with young people and their families. One goal of the First Hope program is to provide community education regarding this new paradigm, so these young people can be identified early, when treatment has the greatest impact, and intervene as early as possible to prevent the development of disease-related deficits and treatment-related side effects. In addition, we want to empower individuals and families to become active participants in their treatment and to help them progress toward their educational, personal, social, and occupational goals.

Our Services


Young people and their families referred to the program will receive an initial interview and assessment to determine whether they are at risk for developing psychosis. The assessment is based on the Structured Interview for Psychosis-Risk Syndromes, developed by the Prevention through Risk Identification, Management and Education research team at Yale University. The results of this assessment will help us determine whether our program is the best treatment, or whether a referral to another program would be most helpful.

Family Aided Community Treatment

Family Aided Community Treatment is an innovative treatment modality providing integrated, family-focused treatment and support services. Family Aided Community Treatment teams are multi-disciplinary and highly coordinated to provide intensive care targeted toward each client’s individual goals. The specialized expertise of each team member allows the program to respond flexibly to clients’ and families’ needs. By integrating the family as treatment partners, Family Aided Community Treatment increases the effectiveness of Assertive Community Treatment interventions. Outreach, in-home coaching, a coordinated treatment team approach, proactive and highly individualized treatment and rehabilitation planning, on-the-job training, frequent contact and site-specific job preparation are key elements of the model. Using this evidence-based model First Hope can provide rapid initiation of treatment, psychoeducational multifamily groups, and case management using key Assertive Community Treatment methods, outreach as needed, continuous case review, and supported employment and education. Our multi-disciplinary team also allows us to collaborate with schools, colleges, and employers. We initially work with the client and family to help them understand the nature and effects of CHR symptoms. These include changes in emotion, motivation, thinking, perception and behavior. The clinicians at First Hope (Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, and Education & Employment Specialists) will provide a range of treatment options for individuals and their families.

Multi-family Psychoeducation and Support Groups

Bi-weekly multi-family groups for youth and their families are based upon the PIER treatment model. Psychoeducation and support are provided to increase understanding about the illness, improve stress management and communication skills within the family, and develop problem solving skills.

Medication Management

Regular appointments with our psychiatrists are tailored to assess the need for medication. Participation in the program is not contingent upon taking medication.

Supported Education and Employment

Supported Education and Employment services are provided within the client's home, school or workplace to improve everyday functioning to help the clients achieve their goals of social, academic and occupational recovery. Our specialists can perform cognitive assessments to further assist in supporting school or work success.

Our recovery-based treatment approach provides services to clients and families referred into the program for up to 2 years focusing on 1) reducing and managing symptoms and distress and 2) improving individuals' ability to achieve success in independent roles through appropriate education and employment opportunities.

We believe community education, early identification, and intervention are necessary steps in reducing the impact and stigma of psychosis on affected individuals, their families and our community. Our community based education and outreach program identifies individuals prior to the onset of the most devastating aspects of psychosis, preventing deterioration and hospitalization wherever possible. Our family-centered treatment approach empowers individuals and their families to be active participants in their care, helping them achieve their personal, social, educational and occupational goals. We aim to do this in the most culturally sensitive and least stigmatizing manner that addresses the specific needs of each individual, their family, and the community.

Phone: 925-681-4450
Fax: 925-646-5365
1034 Oak Grove Rd.
Concord, CA. 94518