PALO ALTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Thanks to the outstanding philanthropic leadership of an anonymous Palo Alto resident, CHC is moving forward with plans to launch Palo Alto’s first Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) this spring, filling a critical gap in teen mental health services. The IOP, located on CHC’s campus, will address the needs of teens between the ages of 14-18 with significant anxiety, depression, and/or suicidal thoughts. “We are in the perfect place to do this, we have the qualified staff to do it, and now, thanks to a generous lead donor, we can move forward right away, knowing that it will be accessible and affordable to all teens, regardless of financial capacity,” said CHC’s Executive Director, Dr. Rosalie Whitlock.
After a recent qualitative study revealed a significant need for a Palo Alto-based intensive after school therapy program for teens, CHC was driven to add an IOP to its robust web of support for at-risk teens. It is a natural extension of CHC’s comprehensive continuum of care and overall commitment to helping local youth realize their promise and potential. “It was time to listen to our community by creating a local resource that can meet the mental health needs of our struggling teens,” said Dr. Ramsey Khasho, Director of The Center at CHC.
CHC’s skilled adolescent psychiatrists and expert teen therapists will allow for seamless transitions between the IOP and less intensive outpatient therapy services. “CHC is a natural home for an IOP because we have appropriate space, knowledge and skill sets along with the passion and heart for the community and our teens,” said Dr. Lynette Hsu, Head of Adolescent Mental Health Services at CHC.
CHC’s twelve-week IOP will be able to accommodate up to eight teens at a time and will be offered on a rolling basis, four days/week during after-school hours, enabling teens to maintain their daily school routines. The IOP’s therapeutic multimodal approach includes evidence-based interventions including Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)—considered the IOP gold standard for psychological treatment of mental health disorders—and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), as well as best practices in mindfulness. Seasoned, licensed clinicians trained through the Linehan Institute (founded by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., the developer of DBT therapies), will provide individual, group, and family therapy; psychiatry with medication management; an academic skills component; mindfulness training (physical, art, nutrition); and parent and multi-family skill groups.
Those who will benefit most from CHC’s IOP include teens with moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety or depression; self-harm behaviors (i.e. cutting); suicidal thoughts with or without plans; significant decrease in functioning at school and at home (i.e. sharp decline in grades, missing school); and those for whom weekly outpatient therapy is not effective for symptom reduction and improved functioning. The program covers the often overlooked but essential middle ground between weekly outpatient therapy and hospitalization, and provides transition support between the two. The program also provides a critical step-down service for teens discharged and returning from psychiatric inpatient stays.
Because teen anxiety and depression symptoms are not clear-cut and many parents may not know what level of help their teen needs, CHC is also expanding its free 30-minute expert consultation service. “We want to offer clarity and comfort during what can be a scary and confusing time for parents,” said Dr. Khasho. Parents are encouraged to call, even if they aren’t certain whether their teen is exhibiting typical adolescent behavior or warning signs of something more serious.
Connecting those in need with those who can help is the cornerstone of CHC’s Teen Mental Health Initiative (TMHI) of which the IOP will be an integral part. TMHI also aims to remove stigma, raise awareness and reduce teen suicide through accessible, affordable and compassionate teen therapy; community education; and community engagement. “Teen mental health is not an issue that can be tackled by CHC alone,” said Dr. Whitlock. “In order to make a lasting impact, we need to educate ourselves and each other, leverage strengths and partnerships, and involve all stakeholders—from teens and teachers to parents and government officials.”
On this front, CHC has incorporated 12 new teen-focused classes into its free community education program (link); launched a Teen Mental Health Committee, made up of local teens who want to use their voices to reduce stigma and advocate change; partnered with Stanford to develop a Teen Mental Health Leadership Collaborative of local leaders of various stakeholder groups to leverage the community’s collective strengths and make advancements in the Bay Area teen mental health system of care; and hosts regular gatherings with local school counselors and wellness coordinators to understand and address unmet mental health needs at the school and district level.
A complex problem deserves a comprehensive solution, and a changing landscape requires a nimble strategy. “We are not interested in a band-aid fix,” said Dr. Khasho. “We won’t rest until we see meaningful and lasting results.”
In addition to CHC’s award-winning education and mental healthcare services, CHC has long been a community resource. On March 16th, CHC will host its annual community breakfast featuring guest speakers Nancy Lublin, Founder and CEO of the acclaimed Crisis Text Line, the 24-hour crisis intervention service delivered via text; Jayne Apple, WNBA Star and founder of Bring Change 2 Mind, a non-profit working to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness; James B. Everitt, EdD, Director, Office of Mission Initiatives & Institutional Planning for Sacred Heart Schools, which oversees the School’s health and wellness efforts; and Ramsey Khasho, PsyD, CHC Director of The Center & Director of Clinical Services, Sand Hill School. Over the next year CHC will continue to bring the community together through education, expert panels, breakfast meetings and other events to highlight the various needs of teens. Ongoing developments and details about the CHC Teen Mental Health Initiative and the new IOP may be found at www.chconline.org. To schedule a free 30 minute consultation or an appointment for services call 650.688.3625 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHC is a nonprofit agency that has been serving children, youth, teens and young adults in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties as well as the greater San Francisco Bay Area for nearly 65 years. The CHC Teen Mental Health Initiative expands affordable teen therapy, mental health education, and community leadership and engagement directly, and through community collaborations, to help reduce teen anxiety and depression, and prevent teen suicide. The goal of the agency is to remove barriers to learning regardless of language, location, learning style or ability to pay. The agency specializes in Anxiety & Depression, ADHD, Learning Differences, and Autism with The Center, two schools, Community Clinic and Community Education. www.chconline.org