Heads Up! - Early Psychosis Intervention Program

Welcome to the Heads Up! program, an early psychosis intervention program meant to help those who are experiencing a first episode of psychosis. We work as a team to assess, treat and educate people with psychosis as soon as possible. We know that if we can detect psychosis early, then people have the best chance of a successful recovery.

Who we can help?

The interdisciplinary team provides services to persons 14 to 35 years of age who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis or have not received treatment for psychosis.


You can submit a referral to this program using this form.

Getting help

Psychosis can occur suddenly or gradually. Changes may be noted in the person’s ability to think clearly and interact socially. Recognition of early changes and acting on family concerns can help with early detection. Changes may be hard to identify, and may also be difficult to distinguish from other behaviour changes particularly in young people; when in doubt please seek a clinical opinion.

What is psychosis?

Psychosis is a serious mental illness affecting the brain that changes the way a person thinks and feels, leading to a significant loss of touch with reality. The onset of psychosis can be sudden or gradual.

What are the signs and symptoms of psychosis?

  • Loss of usual behaviour or skills
  • Lack of interest in things normally considered important
  • Lack of energy or desire to do anything - even simple things
  • Absorbed in own thoughts and senses
  • Lack of normal feelings and less responsive to others
  • Strong attitudes and beliefs that may seem unreasonable to others
  • Difficulty with abstract thinking
  • Movements slow down or stop
  • Believing things that don’t make sense or are against evidence
  • Hearing or seeing things that aren’t actually there
  • Being unable to “think straight”
  • Being emotionally disturbed or excited
  • Trying to seem very important
  • Being untrusting and guarded, feeling “watched”
  • Acting unfriendly and showing ill feelings towards others

What causes psychosis?

While no one knows for sure, scientific evidence suggests that a combination of genetic and biological factors, substance misuse, and stress are contributing factors to the development of psychosis.

Who experiences psychosis?

Approximately 3% of all individuals experience an episode of psychosis in their lifetime.  A first episode of psychosis usually occurs in teens or early adult life.

How to be supportive

Psychosis or psychotic episodes can be very difficult for caregivers to know how to handle. Some episodes can be frightening or confusing especially for the person experiencing them. Psychosis is defined as a loss of contact with reality, and an inability to distinguish between what is real and what is not real. It includes delusions (false beliefs that can include paranoia, unusual ideas, or uncharacteristic thinking)) and hallucinations that include the five senses (most commonly seeing or hearing things which are not there). Many times when someone is experiencing psychotic symptoms, they may actually be unaware that anything is wrong. It’s important for caregivers to know how to recognize the early-warning signs indicating that a psychosis is developing, and to know how to get help.

How to cope

Psychosis may create a crisis in your life but there is a community of experienced people, interventions and treatment services to help you. Desperate feelings may lead to suicidal thoughts in some people who first experience symptoms of psychosis. If you have ever felt suicidal, have a crisis plan, and stay connected to the people and interests that give your life meaning and purpose.



Hotel Dieu Hospital site
166 Brock Street
Centenary 5
Kingston, ON  K7L 5G2
Toll free: 1-866-485-2728
613-544-3400 extension 2550 
Fax: 613-545-1364 


25 Front Avenue, Unit 4A
Brockville, ON  K6V 4J2
613-342-2262 extension 5434
Fax: 613-345-4111


2 Gould Street
Smiths Falls, ON  K7A 2S5


250 Sidney Street (near intersection of Sidney and Bridge Streets)
Belleville, ON K8P 3Z3
Fax: 613-967-6307


41 Dundas Street West (at Youth Hub)
(Robert Street Entrance)
Napanee, ON  K7R 2M4

Program mission, vision and values


We are a team dedicated to the early detection and treatment of psychosis in persons aged 14-35. We support our clients with their return to wellness by enabling them to define and reach their goals. We deliver our services in Hastings, Prince Edward, Lennox and Addington, Frontenac (Kingston), Lanark, Leeds and Grenville counties


All individuals experiencing psychosis receive services tailored to their needs in their own communities to support their journeys towards wellness.


  • Hope - We believe that individuals can recover from psychosis with early detection and appropriate treatment
  • Caring - We believe that educated and supportive families improve the probability of recovery
  • Fighting Stigma - We believe that awareness and understanding about mental illness helps to break down stigma, which can be a barrier to seeking help early
  • Teamwork - We believe that a collaborative professional team is essential to providing the best possible care for our clients. Our multidisciplinary team consists of Nursing, Social Work, Occupational Therapy, Psychology and Psychiatry
  • Alliances - We are devoted to working with our community partners to support our clients on their journeys towards recovery