A big question after 'graduating' from the EPI program is 'what's next?' While there is no set path for youth after they leave EPI, there are some common options available. These options depend on how well symptoms are managed, the young person's level of functioning, and what is available in their community.
Some youth decide to return to high school or university. School counselling centres often have professionals available to support students on an ongoing basis at no charge. Some might also offer support groups, mindfulness groups and/or other wellness activities.
If ongoing support is needed, another option is to link up with the local Child and Youth Mental Health (CYMH) office (if under 18yrs old) or Adult mental health (18+). Services with these programs vary, but often psychiatrists and psychologists are available, along with social workers, support groups and often wellness activities.
Work is definitely also an option post-EPI, if not already doing this during the program. EPI programs may some help in getting back to school or work as soon as a person is able to. Work and/or school serve to give us purpose in life and are great things to work toward during and after taking part in the EPI program. It is important to ease into it so as not to get overwhelmed, but over time full-time employment and/or school can be possible after going through psychosis. Some choose to start by volunteering, which can be a great way to gain experience and ease into the working world.
Social and fitness activities are also a vital component to working towards and/or maintaining full recovery post-EPI. Most cities have sports, social and/or community groups or meetups that are accessible and open to youth at all price and ability levels. From hiking groups to volunteer opportunities, this part of recovery is often overlooked, yet can add a lot of great connections and joy into your life.
In this video, EPI Alumni Tracy talks about her experience with mental illness in 2012.
Eleven years later, EPI Alumni Tracy is still involved with EPI and a central part of the Early Psychosis Peer Recovery Network.