The Whole Child’s PIER Program Leads Los Angeles County in Serving Youth At-Risk of Severe Mental Illness

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The Whole Child is one of four providers in Los Angeles County selected by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and the exclusive provider in Service Planning Area 7 to offer early psychosis assistance for youth ages 12-25. The program, Powerful Initiatives for Early Recovery (PIER), launched in Spring 2020 with a concentrated outreach effort and now proudly services 20 families, the largest client-base currently served in the county, with a goal of servicing 20 families by the end of June 2021.

The Whole Child - Mental Health Los Angeles PIER Program


PIER provides early treatment for youth who pose a clinical-high-risk of developing severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia and psychosis. By detecting and treating patients at the onset of psychosis, the negative impact of psychosis may be mitigated. The PIER program assists youth and families to increase performance in all areas of life by building coping skills, reducing stress, and implementing problem-solving techniques. The Whole Child moved into PIER Treatment Implementation through the Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) driving PIER services – Multifamily Groups in both English and Spanish. Due to COVID-19 health guidance, The Whole Child has revised content and created service protocols for virtual platforms to keep clients and staff members safe.

“The PIER program … is designed to help individuals, families, and communities learn of the early warning signs of psychosis and to promote advocacy, acceptance, and understanding by decreasing stigma and increasing hope for our constituents and for them to know that help is available.  I feel very fortunate to be part of such a large initiative contributing to the quality of life for the families in our communities,” stated Dr. Frank Nessary, Psy.D., Director of The Whole Child’s PIER program.

PIER’S Outreach Efforts

The PIER team of clinically trained mental health professionals actively conducts outreach to community organizations through-out Service Planning Area 7, raising awareness, reducing the misconceptions of severe mental health conditions, and providing information on early detection and prevention treatment. Those outreach efforts resulted in an average of 58% participation in LA County, the highest in the county, and contributed to the program’s visibility, acknowledgment, collaborations, and partnerships with various entities. Partnerships have been forged with researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Davis’ “Learning Health Care Network” designed to conduct nation-wide sharing and analysis of mental health data for psychosis. The Whole Child has established strong local partnerships with Cal State Long Beach, Montebello Unified School District, KIPP Academy, ABC School District, and the City of Bell Gardens, to name a few.

If you would like to learn more about the program, please contact The Whole Child’s PIER team at (562) 692-0383.