Transition to adulthood: the critical period for pre-emptive, disease-modifying care for schizophrenia and related disorders

Schizophr Bull. 2011 May;37(3):524-30. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbr027.


There is an urgent need and a global opportunity to rethink not only the dominant research paradigms in etiological research but also to invest in less constrained strategies which cut across the existing diagnostic silos to seek out common risk factors, late as well as early neurodevelopmental processes, pathophysiologies, and novel treatment strategies. The high-quality research presented in this special issue of Schizophrenia Bulletin makes a compelling case for such a rethink. While there is still a genuine disconnect between our understanding of the complex and dramatic brain changes that occur during the transition to adulthood and the concurrent surge in incidence of mental ill-health, there is no doubt that a much more serious focus on the perionset stage of clinical disorders in young people with their rapidly evolving brains, social environments, and life trajectories could be extremely productive. Research access to these early stages of illness would be catalyzed by the widespread construction of engaging stigma-free portals and clinical scaffolding appropriate for young people in the 21st century. The latter are urgently required to supersede traditional models of care, which have served both patients and families so poorly, and equally have failed to unlock a deeper understanding of the origins and progression of potentially serious mental disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Critical Period, Psychological*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Social Environment*