The NAVIGATE Program


Finding your way back to better mental health

For teenage and young adult patients and their families experiencing early and first episode psychosis, it’s critical to connect with a treatment provider and receive the support needed as soon as you realize there is a problem. The NAVIGATE program at ECMC’s Regional Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health can help with services and support needed during these times, and bring hope and resiliency to patients and families experiencing these episodes.

About Early & First Episode Psychosis

Early psychosis (also called first episode psychosis or FEP) can be frightening, confusing and distressing for the person experiencing it and difficult for family and friends to understand. In the United States, about 100,000 young people will experience psychosis each year, and three in 100 will have an episode in their lifetime.

Connecting with the right resources for treatment during this kind of episode can be life-changing and radically alter your future for the better. The most important thing is not to delay getting help-even if you’re unsure of if you’re experiencing early warning signs of psychosis or typical teen/young adult behaviors. Treatment during a first episode of psychosis is a patient’s best hope for slowing, stopping, or reversing the effects.

There is a once-monthly Free Open House for Families and Community members to learn about First Episode Psychosis and how NAVIGATE can help. It is held the second Monday of the month (except for Holidays) from 6 – 7 pm in the outpatient Adult, Child and Family Clinic. All are welcome. Call 898-3255 for questions and to confirm how many will attend.

The Warning Signs of Early Psychosis

Knowing the warning signs can enable you or your loved one to get the right treatment sooner. These include:

  • Hearing, seeing, tasting, or believing things that others don’t
  • Suspiciousness or extreme uneasiness with others
  • Persistent, unusual thoughts or beliefs
  • Strong and inappropriate emotions or no emotions at all
  • Withdrawing from family or friends
  • A sudden decline in self-care
  • Trouble thinking clearly or concentrating

The NAVIGATE Program

Services available to patients ages 14-30 through the program include:

  • A primary therapist who assists patients in achieving goals by providing education, treatment recommendations, and coping strategies for psychosis
  • A family education program that teaches families about psychosis and treatment, reducing family stress, and improving communication and understanding
  • A Monthly Family Meeting, one Monday evening each month from 6 – 7:30 pm for education and support for NAVIGATE families. One of the NAVIGATE prescribing doctors attends each session to answer questions
  • Individualized medication treatment aimed at reducing symptoms and preventing relapses
  • Support Education/Employment Specialist (SEE) who assist patients in developing goals for employment or education, and then attaining them
  • Case management services to assist with needs related to transportation, housing, disability, legal, insurance, or social services needs, or general continuity of care.

For more information about NAVIGATE and First Episode Psychosis:

For the ECMC NAVIGATE Newsletter email

The Dedicated NAVIGATE Team

Debra Riter

Debra Riter, LCSWR
Program Director
P: 716.898.3255

Zhanna Elberg

Zhanna Elberg, MD
NAVIGATE Medical Director
P: 716.898.3255


Nidiam Berrios
Support Employment & Education Specialist
P: 716.898.4288

Katie White

Katie White, BSN
Registered Nurse
P: 716.898.4245

Janelle Baker

Janelle Baker, LCSW
Psychiatric Social Worker
P: 716.898.5713

Justin Higgins

Justin Higgins, LCSW
Psychiatric Social Worker
P: 716.898.1679

Tina Anzalone

Tina Anzalone, LCSW-R
Family Clinician
P: 716.898.4357

Elisabeth Mann

Elisabeth Mann, LCSW-R
Family Clinician
P: 716.898.3793


Megan Kerr, LMSW
Psychiatric Social Worker
P: 716.898.1870

How to Get Help

If you, one of our patients, or someone you love is experiencing signs of early or first episode psychosis, contact our team for a referral.

Call 716.898.3255 and press 0.

Located within our Adult, Child & Family Clinic
462 Grider Street, Buffalo, NY 14215

Office Hours

Monday-Friday: 8:00am-5:00pm

Request NAVIGATE Promotional Material

To receive a NAVIGATE counter display and patient information brochures, please take a moment to fill out this request form.

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