Stanford creates new Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing | News | Palo Alto Online |


Stanford creates new Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing

Center looks to open new health clinics to serve 12- to 25-year-olds

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Stanford Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences has consolidated all of its existing youth mental health efforts — as well as some new ones — under one roof and a new name: the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing.

The new center will house early mental health support services, educational and suicide-prevention efforts, community partnerships, school-based health services, research and more with the goal of "spearheading a new national vision for adolescent and young adult wellness and mental health support," the center's website reads.

"I've been particularly concerned, not only locally but nationally, about the need for us to create in this country a public mental health model for adolescent and young adults where one doesn't really exist," said Steven Adelsheim, a Stanford child psychiatrist who is serving as director of the Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing. "Half of all mental health issues start by (age) 14 and three-quarters by the age of 24, but we really don't have great systems that are comfortable for people to get early mental health care. I've become more and more convinced thorough my career ... that we still don't have great systems in place to provide that early support."

The center will focus on early intervention and support, primarily through the opening of several adolescent mental health clinics — possibly in the Bay Area and likely across the United States. The model for these clinics is based on a national youth mental health initiative in Australia called headspace, which provides early intervention services — from physical and mental health to alcohol and other drugs, work and study issues — to 12- to 25-year-olds at dozens of centers located throughout the country. Services are either free or come at a low cost, and many centers offer drop-in services. headspace centers are also built and designed with input from people from the very age group they serve and have youth advisory boards.

There's also an online version — "eheadspace" — that provides confidential online and telephone support service seven days a week as well as school-based programs and training for health professionals and research efforts.

The goal of the headspace model, which was created and funded by the Australian government in 2006, is to increase access to mental health support and provide youth and adolescents a comfortable space with wraparound services for anything they might need help with.

The message, Adelsheim said, is: "If you're having a break up, come to headspace; we can help you. If you're struggling with anxiety, come to headspace; we can help you."

"They're making it comfortable if not cool to go in and get early mental health care in a less stigmatized way," he added.

The Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing website calls the headspace model "a critical first step toward developing a national youth model for public mental health."

Stanford Medicine received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to conduct a feasibility study of opening a headspace-like center in the United States, and is now partnering with the foundation to "try to get several sites off the ground in the U.S.," Adelsheim said.

Locally, they're currently in talks "to see where that might be reasonable and viable in the Bay Area," he said.

The Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing will also provide connections to existing clinical services at Stanford, including for severe anxiety and mood disorders, eating disorders, early psychosis, trauma prevention and early intervention and multidisciplinary assessments for young people and their families.

The center will also work closely with primary care providers to boost their own understanding and training around early identification and treatment of mental health issues. A "core element" of the center will be to take advantage of innovative health technologies as well as evaluate websites, crisis text lines and apps related to mental health.

Ongoing partnerships with local school districts, including Palo Alto Unified, will continue under the new center. In Palo Alto, this has included suicide prevention and postvention efforts, parent education, panel events and more.

Stanford also began this weekend hosting focus groups with local teens and their parents to discuss mental health issues and any needs they think should be met in the community.

"At this point, we are doing more information gathering and really are just trying to be sure that the community voice is providing direction for us, which seems like a critical, critical thing to be doing," Adelsheim said.

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63 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2015 at 4:05 pm

And so why isn't Stanford opening an in-patient adolescent unit so are teens don't have to go to other counties to get inpatient treatment? Why is such a huge expanding world-class hospital missing this essential service?

61 people like this
Posted by Huh???
a resident of Atherton
on Nov 9, 2015 at 7:06 pm

Exactly WHAT youth mental health services did they have to begin with?

In my experience with them, anyone under 18 gets sent out of the county. Stanford STUDENTS have their own youth mental health services [portion removed.]

The rest of the community is at Stanford Hospital's mercy.

54 people like this
Posted by profit
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 9, 2015 at 9:43 pm

Clearly Stanford considers a youth wellness center more lucrative than an inpatient adolescent psych unit. I'm not sure why this is the case as "business" would still slack off in the summer months. I would guess that the young patients at the new wellness center would continue to overwhelmingly be treated by trainees (residents and fellows) rather than more experienced attending physicians.

20 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 9, 2015 at 10:55 pm

Surely, Stanford must be considering offering inpatient care to the 12 - 17 yr olds treated in this new center. How could they send the minors out-of-county away from this consolidation of care but treat the 18 - 24 yr olds " in house"?

48 people like this
Posted by Kristen
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2015 at 11:14 am

Our family experienced a 51-50 last year. It was excruciating to learn our area hospitals did not have beds for Pediatric Psychiatry patients. Our family would need to drive hours to visit and our child's internal trauma would have been worsened by being sent so far from home for his safety and care. This looks very fluffy and scratches the surface of needs in the south bay area. With a high concentration of Autism in the area there is higher anxiety and depression as well. Certainly ignores the stats for a more extensive program need. Shame.

58 people like this
Posted by Double Standard
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2015 at 11:37 am

It figures that Stanford would come up with too little too late.

Of course they take care of their own in the private school setting; but the hospitals are public, one is a children's hospital. They are ignoring this community's children because they don't see enough profit in it.

That is nothing short of neglect and buck passing.

5 people like this
Posted by Bette H
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 10, 2015 at 4:52 pm

Well at least they're doing something, and I hope Adelsheim truly is doing more information gathering and will take the community's voice into account for a more comprehensive long term solution. There are lots of comments on this thread because it is a "critical, critical thing to be doing."

Like this comment
Posted by Misha
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2015 at 11:57 pm

VERY grateful to Dr. Adelsheim and team for the focused efforts in support of our precious youth. Thank you for being brave and willing to do something different!

21 people like this
Posted by Hahaha
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2015 at 4:58 pm

For a non-profit hospital, Stanford and Lucille Packard seem to be ALL about profit.

Check around: they are the highest priced hospitals in the Bay Area. So much so, in fact, that more and more
Insurance companies donor include them on their preferred provider lists.

6 people like this
Posted by Hahaha
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 12, 2015 at 9:11 am

Sorry, that s/b: insurance companies do NOT include them on their preferred provider lists.

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