This presentation occurred during the 2022 South Southwest MHTTC First Episode Psychosis conference on June 2nd. Dr. Tara Niendam facilitated this keynote session.
Presentation Summary: Risk for self-harm behaviors is high in early psychosis populations; therefore, all clinical programs need a protocol for risk assessment and management that begins at first client contact and is maintained over time. This presentation provided an overview of suicide rates in the US, an approach to assessing risk and protective factors, and an introduction to the CSSRS – the gold-standard tool for suicide ideation and behavior. The presentation will also briefly covered methods for addressing suicide, including the Safety Plan Protocol.
About the Speaker
Dr. Tara Niendam (she/her/hers)
Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Research
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of California, Davis
Dr. Niendam is an Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Research in Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of California, Davis. She completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the Executive Director of the UC Davis Early Psychosis Programs (EDAPT and SacEDAPT Clinics) and has developed 4 early psychosis programs in Northern California based on the coordinated specialty care model of early psychosis. Her research focuses on improving clinical and functional outcomes for youth with serious mental illness, with a focus on mobile health technology. She is the Principal Investigator for the Early Psychosis Intervention Network of California, or EPI-CAL, which is part of the new NIMH-funding EPI-NET program. EPI-CAL links multiple county-and university-based EP programs to bring client-level data to the clinician’s fingertips, and enable large scale data-driven approaches to improve outcomes for EP care. She also directs the EPI-CAL affiliated Training and Technical Assistance Center, which seeks to bring evidence based early psychosis care to all Californians. Within both clinical and research contexts, Dr. Niendam has worked to amplify the need for high-quality suicide risk assessment and management protocols, as this is critical to reducing high suicide rates for individuals with serious mental illness.
Positionality Statement: I come to this work from both personal and family experiences. Within the psychosis space, my family supported loved ones who experienced psychotic symptoms as part of bipolar disorder. I was raised by a single mom in a small, rural town in Kentucky, where mental health services were nonexistent for lower-middle class families like mine, and the stigma against mental health prevented us from seeking help anyway. In the realm of suicide, I have lost friends and consumers in my clinics to suicide and experienced the unbearable pain and unrelenting “what-if” questions. I believe we can do better, hence my passion for speaking about suicide and pushing our field toward incorporating high-quality approaches. I identify as a white, cisgender, heterosexual woman, a mother, a wife and a clinician-scientist. I am a consumer of mental health services. I am strongly committed to DEIA and seek to amplify the voices of marginalized communities in all areas of my work. Consumer and support person voices are present in both my research and clinical work.