FIRST programs are comprehensive, outpatient, team-based programs aimed at improving the mental health and quality of life for individuals who have experienced a first episode of a psychotic illness. This is accomplished by promoting early identification and providing best treatment practices as soon as possible. Early identification and treatment of psychosis is important because it can lead to:

  • Preventing increasing severity of the illness
  • Less physical, mental, psychological, social and occupational disability
  • Lower risk of relapse
  • Fewer forensic complications
  • Reduced family disruption and distress
  • Reduced need for inpatient care
  • Lower health costs

FIRST programs focus on helping people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders improve their recovery and resiliency, reduce relapse rates and set and achieve goals for the future. Treatment services include psychiatric care, individual counseling, family psychoeducation, supported employment/education and case management. These services are provided in an integrated manner by a six-person team.

While each person will be considered for FIRST treatment services on an individual basis, FIRST is most appropriate for individuals who:

  • are 15-40 years of age
  • are diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder or other specified/unspecified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorder;
  • have experienced no more than 18 months of psychotic symptoms (treated or untreated);
  • are willing to consent to participate in at least two treatment modalities that include counseling, psychiatric care, supported employment/education, family psychoeducation and case management.

FIRST programs are a collaboration between Coleman Professional Services, the Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment (BeST) Center at Northeast Ohio Medical University and local mental health boards.

FIRST program locations and contacts:

Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties

FIRST Greater Lima treatment services are based at: Coleman Professional Services, 799 South Main St., Lima, Ohio 45804. To learn more, please contact:

Brook Smith, LPC
FIRST Greater Lima Team Leader
at 330.541.8543

Portage County

5982 Rhodes Road
Kent, Ohio, 44240

To learn more, please contact:

Karen Fleming, Ph.D., 
FIRST Portage County team leader 

Stark County

400 Tuscarawas St. West
Suite 200
Canton, Ohio 44702

To learn more, please contact:

Michelle Allison-Smith, LPCC-S
FIRST Stark County team leader

Trumbull County

552 North Park Avenue
Warren, OH 44481

Carmella Hill
FIRST Stark County team leader


For more about these services, please visit the BeST Center’s website.

Available Counties