Teen Mental Health: Notes from Dr. Ramsey Khasho

Girl looking at youCHC's experienced team is ready to help teens and families overcome challenges throughout the adolescent journey.

Since the launch of the Teen Mental Health Initiative (TMHI) in 2016, CHC has continued its commitment to increasing awareness, removing stigma, connecting those in need to those who can help and reducing teen suicide. We know therapy works and CHC is just a call away. Just two years later, nearly 1,300 teens came to CHC for therapy—a 25% increase over last year.

Free parent and teacher education continues to be a top priority. This year CHC introduced a series of new classes about important teen topics like building resilience in teens, parenting wired teens and helping teens cope with anxiety. We saw an increase of 68% in free 30-minute parent consultations, meaning parents felt more comfortable reaching out to CHC experts for advice and support.

One of the early objectives of the initiative was to open Palo Alto's first Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) to provide support to teens ages 14-18 during the often overlooked but essential middle ground between weekly outpatient therapy and inpatient hospitalization. CHC can help teens struggling with a more severe case of anxiety and depression as well as those with a history of self-harm and/or suicidal thoughts.

In 2017, we did just that. Our first cohort of teen patients took it upon themselves to name it RISE—Reaching Interpersonal & Self Effectiveness. This represents one of the primary goals of Dialectical Behavior Therapy and a cornerstone of the program.

The RISE IOP is based on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)—an evidence-based, research-supported treatment for individuals with severe anxiety and depression including suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Teens learn specific skills to stay alive, including mindfulness, distress tolerance and emotional regulation. Also critical to the program's success is a robust family component so parents/caregivers can develop the skills necessary to support their teens at home.

Our goal is to teach teens to continue to integrate DBT into daily life after the IOP to help reduce unsafe thoughts and behaviors. One teen recently reflected:

"I've been able to better cope and react in certain situations. Before the IOP my first thought or urge was a problem behavior, but now I've realized that there are better and more effective ways to help me."

Since the opening of the IOP in May 2017, the program serves small cohorts to 5-8 students (ages 13-18) at a time. The number of requests for the IOP far outweighs the number of teens CHC can serve. To meet this need, CHC partners with Stanford's Department of Psychiatry to leverage our resources and help more teens. Thank you to the Palo Alto Community Fund and other visionary donors for making the RISE Intensive Outpatient Program possible.

Our team at CHC remains vigilant in our efforts to combat mental illness and improve the mental health and wellness of pre-teens, teens and young adults. We are fully committed to continuing this work in our community. For more information about our Teen Mental Health programs and RISE Intensive Outpatient Program visit chconline.org/therapy.