Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Programs

The Nord Center has years of experience and a talented and caring staff focused on providing treatment and aiding the recovery of people experiencing SMI. We use evidence-based practices and our philosophy, proven out by the experience of countless people we have served, is that recovery from mental illness is possible.

What is an SMI?

The definition of SMI includes one or more diagnoses of mental disorders combined with significant impairment in functioning. Schizophrenia, bipolar illness, and major depressive disorder are the diagnoses most commonly associated with SMI, but people with one or more other disorders may also fit the definition of SMI if those disorders result in functional impairment. According to a 2017 report to Congress by the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration, about 1 in 25 adults has an SMI in a given year.

Many of the services offered for people experiencing SMI are listed below. All services begin with an assessment which can be scheduled by calling our Intake Department at 440-204-4161.


Make an Appointment?

Intake Line (440) 204-4161


Day Treatment Program (DTP)

The Nord Center’s Day Treatment Program provides the highest level of outpatient care available. Day Treatment is a treatment option for those individuals requiring high intensity clinical care but not the full services of an inpatient facility. The goal of Day Treatment is to provide structure, support and education to individuals on managing their illness and reducing the chance of relapse or re-hospitalization. There are two Day Treatment groups meeting. The morning group is focused on mental health and the afternoon group has a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) focus.

Clients in DTP have access to:
• Each group meets 3 hours a day, 3 days a week
• Community support education and development
• Skill development to manage their illness
• Support through group therapy
• Resources to improve coping skills
• Health and medical issue education
• Medication education
• Education in managing symptoms, anger, and stress
• Drug and alcohol education (afternoon group)

First Episode Psychosis (FEP) Program

The FIRST Program of Lorain County is a comprehensive, outpatient, team-based program aimed at improving the mental health and quality of life for individuals who have experienced a first episode of psychosis. FIRST Lorain County is a partnership between The Nord Center and the Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment (BeST) Center at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED).

Symptoms of Psychosis

The symptoms of psychosis, which may include hallucinations, delusions or confused thinking, make it harder or impossible for a person to know what is real, to think clearly, to communicate, relate to others, and to feel emotions. However, in the early stages of psychosis, people often do not know what is happening to them and may not seek treatment right away. The most common cause of a first episode of psychosis in young adults is schizophrenia.

Symptoms of psychosis may include:

Hallucinations: Things you hear, see, smell, taste, or feel that no one else can hear, see, smell, taste, or feel. Hearing voices is the most common type of hallucination.

Delusions: False beliefs that seem real to your youth or young adult. People with delusions may believe that other people are spying on them or want to harm them or someone they care about.

Confused thinking: A change in the way a person thinks. Thoughts may be very fast or slow, they may stop suddenly, or the person might feel that the thoughts are outside their control. These thoughts might show up as disorganized speech, such as shifting rapidly from one topic to another.

Benefits of Early Identification and Treatment

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

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

To refer someone or learn more about FIRST Lorain County, contact our FIRST Team Leader by calling 440-204-4200.

Therapeutic Behavioral Services (TBS)

TBS Specialists working with adults can provide an array of activities intended to improve daily functioning and mental health symptom management. The aim of these services is to promote overall independence as well as stability in the home, school, work, and community. Services may be delivered in any setting that meets the needs of the individual including home, office or the community. TBS can include referral and linkage to community resources, interventions using evidence-based techniques to reduce mental health symptoms, crisis prevention, skill building to increase independence and restoration of social skills. The TBS Specialist can serve as a care coordinator for an individual both internally to The Nord Center and externally within the community.