CARE Program

Care Logo

UC San Diego Outpatient Psychiatry Building
140 Arbor Drive, 4th Floor
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: 619-543-7745
Fax: 619-543-7315

Who are we?

Kristin Cadenhead, MD, is the director and principal investigator of the CARE program.  Dr. Cadenhead, or one of her associates, will be available to review potential intakes to the program on weekdays between 8:30 and 5:00.

The primary goal of the CARE Program is to identify and assess adolescents and young adults who are experiencing changes in their thoughts, behavior or emotions that might be associated with developing serious and/or disabling mental problems.

Because it is not always clear what these changes in behavior mean, it is of primary importance to the CARE program that we avoid stigmatizing or labeling the individual. Early identification and intervention may help to delay or prevent the onset and decrease the severity of a serious mental illness.

Free Services

Services provided by CARE are free of charge.

  • Assessment

UCSD physicians who are experts in the study of serious mental disorders that affect adolescents and young adults staff the CARE program.  All participants in the CARE program will receive a complete diagnostic evaluation and treatment recommendations.

  • Research

The CARE program is supported by a research grant from the National Institutes of Health.  The primary goal of the research is to identify risk factors for the later development of mental illness.  All participants will be evaluated on a monthly basis using clinical assessments, as well as non-invasive cognitive and physiological measures.

  • Treatment

Psychological and medical treatments to target symptoms and enhance coping strategies are available to anyone in the CARE program who does not have a treating mental health professional.  Ultimately, we hope these treatments will not only delay the onset and development of mental illness, but also decrease its severity and associated disability.

  • Education

The CARE program provides and educational program with an emphasis on both individuals and families.

  • Case Management

Social Services are available to all participants in the program to assess needs and to help with access to community resources.

Intake Criteria for CARE

Participants must be between the ages of 12 and 30 years.  We select participants based on two different types of criteria:

Low Grade Symptoms Group:

Changes in behavior, thoughts or emotions, such as:

  • Hearing voices, seeing visions, experiencing strange sensations or imagining things
  • A change in perception of objects (things looking or sounding different) or misinterpretation of events (feeling slightly suspicious about others at times)
  • Developing a preoccupation with new, unusual beliefs, or ideas about mind control
  • Behavior that is odd, eccentric, or strange

Other non-specific symptoms that may be present:

  • Deterioration  in school or work functioning
  • Social withdrawal, isolation
  • Reduced concentration, attention
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Confused thinking

Family History Group

Individuals who have a close family member with schizophrenia (parent or sibling)


A recent deterioration in the ability to cope with life events and stressors (expressed as poor concentration, decreased motivation, withdrawal from family and friends, depression or anxiety), or development of low grade symptoms as noted above.