If you or someone you know needs emergency help for mental illness of any kind you should take them to the nearest emergency room or call 911 immediately. However if they are showing signs of psychosis that do not need immediate attention, there is specialized help for them right here in New Orleans.
Three decades of research shows that specialized treatment as early as possible after one’s first psychosis episode improves outcomes across the board. It is important for people to understand that treatment at a general mental health clinic is NOT the same as receiving specialized treatment.
Early Psychosis Interventioin Clinic (EPIC)-NOLA is a Tulane University affilliated specialty care clinic for people experiencing psychosis. Our goal is to help adolescents and young adults understand, manage, and cope with psychosis experiences in order to get back to their everyday lives.
LET’S FIGURE IT OUT TOGETHER
EPIC-NOLA’s multi-disciplinary team provides coordinated specialty care, including psychiatric medication management, individual and family therapy, groups, peer support, family psychoeducation and wellness coaching. Treatment is deeply individualized and based on the most progressive evidence-based models for first-episode psychosis. Some of these services can be provided in the community and home through telehealth.
Patients may be eligible to participate in the EPIC- NOLA program if they are:
- Between the ages of 12 and 35
- Have been experiencing psychosis for less than 3 years
- Have received a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder
- Willing to be evaluated and treated by healthcare professionals
HOW TO MAKE A REFERRAL
Medical professional can refer an individual to our program by filling out the form below and faxing it to 504-988-0302.
Friends, Family & Allies
If you think someone you know may benefit from our program fill out the form below and email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you think you can benefit from our program fill out the form below and email to email@example.com.
MEET OUR EPIC TEAM
Ashley Weiss, D.O., MPH
Co-Founder of CALM + MPH-Medical Director/Attending
Dr. Ashley Weiss is the co-founder of the Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic-New Orleans (EPIC-NOLA) and CALM-Clear Answers to Louisiana Mental Health. Inspired by caring for young people in recovery from psychosis during her own training, she committed to building the first team in New Orleans to provide first-episode psychosis care. Starting with a few hours from a few dedicated clinicians and zero funding, EPIC-NOLA began in August of 2015. Dr. Weiss went to medical school in Florida and did her psychiatry residency at Tulane in New Orleans, along with fellowships in child and adolescent psychiatry and forensic psychiatry. Dr. Weiss is Associate Professor in the Tulane Department of Psychiatry. She is the Medical Director of the clinic and site principal investigator in the National Institute of Mental Health EPINET research program. Her clinical interests are advanced psychopharmacology, “ambitious psychotherapy” for psychosis (Thanks to Dr. Michael Garrett for that quote!) and understanding pathways to care for those first experiencing psychosis. Dr. Weiss also serves as the Director of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry for the Tulane School of Medicine and trains psychiatry residents at EPIC-NOLA. She believes being a psychiatrist is the best job ever (aside from being a mom) and loves being a part of helping patients find their path to recovery. Glitter and hard rock bring her happiness outside of work.
Akanksha Thakur, M.D.
MD-Attending Psychiatrist + Assistant Professor of
Dr. Thakur moved from New York to New Orleans for medical school in 2006. She is board certified in child and adolescent psychiatry and general psychiatry. Her interests include cultural mental health and psychodynamics, and she teaches courses in these areas for Tulane Psychiatry trainees. In addition to her work in the Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic, Dr. Thakur works at the Center for Resilience, a supportive day program for Orleans Parish students, in Jefferson Parish School Based Health Centers, and she maintains a general and child psychiatry practice at Tulane. Dr. Thakur dances, plays and listens to music, travels, spends time in nature, grows food, and promotes therapeutic creativity and care.
Dr. Lentz moved to New Orleans in 2007 and fell in love with the city she now calls home. She attended Tulane University School of Medicine for both medical school and psychiatry residency. As a former teacher in the city, she had a special interest in the teenage and young adult population. While completing her training at Tulane, she met Dr. Weiss and immediately knew she wanted to be part of the EPIC-NOLA clinic. When not at work, she enjoys watching the Saints, kayaking the bayou, exploring the city with her dogs, and playing board games.
Serena Chaudhry, DSW, LCSW, MPH
Public Health Director
Serena Chaudhry is the Public Health Director for the EPIC-NOLA and CALM (Clear Answers to Louisiana Mental Health). She is excited to be in this new role where she is collaborating with allies across the state to help Louisiana better understand and treat psychosis with the goal of getting young people into specialized treatment sooner and back to living their fullest and best lives. Serena is also a practicing clinical social worker who sees a small group of patients at EPIC-NOLA; these patients inspire her. Serena received her master’s in social work and public health from the University of Michigan and her doctorate in social work from Tulane. Serena is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at Tulane School of Medicine and an Adjunct Professor at the Tulane School of Social Work. She is engaged in national research and is motivated by interdisciplinary work specifically with students in the schools of social work, public health and medicine. When she is not focused on psychosis, you can find Serena with her family, traveling to far of places or, at the beach, her place of CALM.
Michael Dyer, LPC
Michael Dyer is the Clinical Director of the EPIC-NOLA Program. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor, and he also contributes to the clinical care and support that we provide to our patients experiencing psychosis. He is a “true” New Orleans native, born and raised not far from our clinic. He graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and received his Master’s in Counseling from the University of New Orleans. Over the years since beginning with this clinic with Drs. Weiss and Chaudhry, he has developed a sincere appreciation and understanding of how the experience of psychosis challenges the lives of patients and families. He is a committed leader of what he describes as “the most amazing program that improve the lives of those experiencing psychosis.”
Doug Headrick, LPC
Therapist, specialization in EMDR
Doug Headrick is a Licensed Professional Counselor by training and is a therapist here at EPIC-NOLA since 2017. His focus is on using an interactive psychotherapy called EMDR. It stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. This type of therapy focuses on both trauma and psychosis, which becomes very valuable because often the experience of psychosis is traumatic. Doug is an avid learner, and has Master’s degrees in both psychology and theology. He has worked with couples, families, dual diagnosis, and even the Wounded Warrior’s Project. He is dedicated to his family and describes his “beautiful wife” as having “the patience of a saint”. In his spare time he loves playing outside and “pretending I’m not old”. Doug brings warmth to the program along with witty sense of humor, and his commitment to his patients truly recovering in body, mind, and spirit is evident.
Victor Onuoha, LPC
A native of Houston Texas, Victor Onuoha is a Louisiana Licensed Professional Counselor and National Board-Certified Counselor with over 10-years of experience. Victor is well versed in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating people living with mental illness from all cultural, racial, and religious backgrounds. He is a warm, affirming, compassionate, and open-minded therapist who creates a non-judgmental, safe space for clients. He utilizes traditional, new, and cutting-edge therapeutic techniques to help clients address negative thoughts & behaviors that are impacting their lives with the simple goal of supporting and empowering individuals on their path to growth, healing, and change. His interest in psychosis treatment involves integrating virtual-reality as a tool to practice the skills to reintegrate into the community comfortably.
Melissa Cooper, LPN
Melissa Cooper is our amazing EPIC Nurse. She is an LPN by training and a California native. She started her clinical work in community health providing case management to patients in board and care homes. Since then, she has worked for large health systems and addiction programs in both California and Louisiana. She is a team player and is genuinely interested in helping her patients get better, both body and mind. At EPIC, she supports the psychiatry team and refill medications, administers injections, and assists with prior authorizations for medication and treatment. She is your ‘go to’ person for questions and concerns about your medication.
Peer Support Specialist
Russell Macaluso is a highly motivated, dynamic team member, and dedicated professional with background experience effective in Peer Support, Human Relations, hospital discharge planning and advocacy that ensures each Peer receives the best service. He is often seen praising, challenging, and helping other meet their life goals, one day at a time. The unknown excites him, challenges, and motivates him; his experience keeps him grounded. His work with this first-episode psychosis team involves helping young people find their way back into work and school during their recovery. He assists with other needs as well such as navigating insurance systems, disability, and if often the liaison between hospitals and our clinic.
Peer Support Specialist
Karl Lewis is an avid outdoor adventurer. When he’s not at work, you can find him backpacking in the mountains, kayaking, snow skiing, scuba diving or practicing yoga. Karl has many successful years in recovery and loves nothing more than sharing the awareness he’s gained through it. He’s found the field of mental health to be a natural outgrowth of his enduring commitment to helping others. He leads peer support groups for our young people in recovery from psychosis, he provides endless coordination of care that our patients and families need, and supports people in getting back to their daily lives in a meaningful way.
Brandon comes to EPIC-NOLA with over 15 years’ experience in the fitness industry, as an athletic director, strength and conditioning coach, and business owner. He has committed this next phase of his career to helping young people at EPIC-NOLA build and develop healthy lifestyles. Brandon has a track record of developing custom health and wellness programs for both corporate and individual clients needs. No matter the current level of fitness, he can deisgn a plan with attainable goals to meet individual needs. “I believe everyone can feel their best and live in balance. Many of us struggle with finding time and space to live a healthier life. I am here to help you welcome in your healthiest self without restrictive diets and hours in the gym”. Brandon has been able to show the young people at EPIC-NOLA that through simple changes to your habits, you can bring in balance and live a healthier life.
Lisa Joseph, Clinic Manager at Tulane Specialty Psychiatry Mid-City Clinic, is a New Orleans native who enjoys this city’s unique culture, food cuisine, eclectic music, custom artwork, architecture, patio dining, festivals, football, dialect and its southern hospitality. She has worked with Tulane for three years and has been with the EPIC-NOLA program since early 2021. She manages the day-to-day clinic operations and structures effective clinical workflows. She is responsible for providing overall leadership and management of the clinic to ensure our clinic is in compliance with state and federal guidelines as well as developing new office policies, procedures and protocols. She helps this extraordinary team of staff and providers to provide excellent customer service and patient care in a safe, healthy and positive environment. She has worked in healthcare for over twenty years, and has a sincere compassion for people that drives her on a daily basis.
Rob Roy, MS
Rob is EPIC-NOLA’s first ever research coordinator and came aboard when EPIC-NOLA became part of the National Institute of Mental Health’s EPINET project. He moved here from Philadelphia and has fallen in love with New Orleans and with working at EPIC-NOLA. His job is to conduct federally funded studies designed to help us improve care for people experiencing their first episode of psychosis, and investigate whatever else interests this team which is primarily how to help young people access first episode psychosis care in the quickest and efficient way possible. He is “de facto IT guy” for the clinic. Outside the clinic he is a self-described bookworm, writer, cook, and drink mixer. If you’re ever interested in participating in a study at EPIC-NOLA he is your connection!
Office Dog + Support Animal
Maximum Pressure (Max for short) hails from Kentucky but he has called New Orleans home since 2-months old. He has an affinity for kids, teenagers, and young adults. He loves hanging out at the clinic to cheer people on in their journey (Cheering=snorting and nudging). And if you’d prefer to not see him, that works too!