On-Track Program Launch

Peace River Center Launches New Early Intervention Program for Youth and Young Adults

BARTOW, Fla., March 7, 2022 – Peace River Center, a licensed and accredited, non-profit provider of mental health, substance use, and integrated medical services, launched OnTrack, a new program aimed at helping youth and young adults. The innovative treatment program is for individuals between the ages of 16 and 30 who recently had unusual thoughts and behaviors or who have started hearing or seeing things that others don’t. According to the National Institute of Health, first onset of mental disorders usually occurs in childhood or adolescence, although treatment typically does not occur until several years later.

“While it is never too late to seek treatment for a mental illness, early intervention is beneficial in the recovery process. Many people do not realize the average age of onset for mental illness is around 14. Oftentimes though because of stigma, people wait an average of 10 years to seek treatment,” said Bill Gardam, CEO of Peace River Center. “Our goal is to reduce the stigma through programs like Make It OK and offer early-intervention programs like OnTrack to help ensure youth and young adults impacted by mental illness have the resources and support they need.”

OnTrack is focused on getting the right treatment started at the right time to increase the chances of recovery and long-term stability. The program uses a “shared decision-making” model and consists of comprehensive care using evidence-based practices offered by a team of professionals. Close collaboration between the client and family with the primary therapist and other OnTrack staff is important to setting and achieving goals.

Funded by the Department of Children and Families, Peace River Center’s OnTrack program provides therapy, peer support, supported employment, and educational assistance to help support the client’s independent living, stable functioning, and future-focused goals. The OnTrack team consists of a program manager, a primary therapist, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, and a nurse. Additionally, the team includes a recovery advocate whose role is to help with work and school and a peer engagement specialist whose role is to support participants by sharing their lived experiences and recovery journey. The OnTrack staff completed evidence-based training out of Columbia University before enrolling the first clients in January.

Program qualifications include teens and young adults between the ages of 16 and 30 years old who have recently started experiencing unusual thoughts or beliefs, or disorganized thinking for more than a week, but less than two years. OnTrack may be a good fit if someone has begun to isolate themselves from family and friends; recently had thoughts that seem strange to themselves or others; felt afraid or suspicious of others; started hearing or seeing things that others do not hear or see. Most OnTrack clients receive services for an average of two years, but all services are based on individual needs and preferences. Those interested in learning more about the referral process may call 863.519.0575 ext. 7773.


About Peace River Center

Peace River Center is a licensed and accredited, non-profit provider of mental health, substance use, and integrated medical services serving Polk, Highlands, and Hardee counties. Peace River Center provides options for people struggling with mental health and substance use, for children and adults coping with the trauma of abuse and violence, crisis intervention for people in acute need, and housing and community support and integration for people affected by domestic violence or whose recovery requires more support and time. Peace River Center offers inpatient, outpatient, home-, school- and community-based services, telehealth, and mobile programs to individuals, groups, and families. Peace River Center’s dedicated and compassionate staff of more than 400 operate 36 programs out of 27 locations and provide 24/7 emergency psychiatric response services to the community through our mobile psychiatric Crisis Response Team. In FY2021, Peace River Center had contact with and provided services to more than 20,000 children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. For more information visit www.PeaceRiverCenter.org.