Children's Health Council expands teen mental-health services

New initiative seeks to support, engage and educate community

Palo Alto nonprofit Children's Health Council (CHC) launched this week its Teen Mental Health Initiative, with the goals of preventing teen suicide and improving youth wellness through increased services, education and community engagement.

Citing distressing statistics familiar to those who work around youth mental health -- that one in five adolescents has a diagnosable mental-health disorder yet less than half of teens with such disorders have received any kind of treatment in the past year -- CHC Executive Director Rosalie Whitlock said in a press release that her organization "feel(s) a very strong calling to do our part to address the significant teen anxiety, depression and suicide that is affecting our local communities.

"Many of us live in this community or have raised kids here, so it is our personal call to action as well as a professional one to open our doors and serve more teens and families in the community in a very actionable way," she said.

The initiative seeks to increase access to services for teens, raise awareness about mental health throughout the community and sustain community engagement around these issues.

"Sadly, many teens who struggle with anxiety or depression, and who are at risk for attempting suicide never receive the treatment they need in large part because of stigma, lack of access to care, or lack of knowledge about their symptoms," said Ramsey Khasho, director of The Center at CHC. "CHC's Teen Mental Health Initiative is focused on removing these barriers so those who need help can receive early diagnosis and treatment utilizing a very community-based approach to prevention and early intervention."

As part of the initiative, CHC has hired more mental-health professionals and expanded the services it provides local teens to include individual, family and group therapy, peer-to-peer counseling, medication assessment and monitoring. To remove cost as a barrier to treatment, Children's Health Council offers services on a sliding scale and is "actively fundraising to help offset some of these costs of services," the press release states. The organization also offers free 30-minute consultations "as a way for families to get started."

In January 2017, CHC also plans to open an on-site Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for adolescents who might not require inpatient psychiatric hospitalization but need more serious treatment. Other future plans to remove barriers to treatment for teens include starting a teen advice line and offering virtual therapy.

A central focus of the new initiative is community education. As such, Children's Health Council will launch a series of classes on mental health in September to address a range of topics for teens, parents and teachers "in a very practical, relevant and action-oriented way," the release states.

Class topics will include "The Teen Brain and Parenting," "Challenges for LGBTQ Teens," "Being a Teen in the Valley," and "Survivors of Loss or Attempt," among others, according to CHC. Classes will be available in both English and Spanish.

Children's Health Council is also planning on developing an education program on teen mental health that would be appropriate for schools, said Micaelia Randolph, CHC's director of communications and marketing.

"This program will be developed collaboratively and will involve schools, community experts, local teens, parents and educators," she wrote in an email.

CHC will be bringing on a new hire to lead and coordinate this effort, she added.

Children's Health Council is also partnering with Stanford University to "unite and mobilize the community and collaboratively develop actionable solutions," around youth mental-health issues, the release states. The two organizations will work to "engage partners to leverage complimentary resources, and create a web of support that accurately and adequately captures the needs of teen mental health in the community."

They plan to convene a communitywide team on a regular basis to support and sustain community efforts -- and provide "accountability" to action promised on teen mental health, the release states.

They will also organize a yearly symposium and other events on on teen mental health and wellness to bring together and further educate young people, parents, educators and professionals.

CHC and Stanford will also partner with other organizations working to support youth mental health, such as Palo Alto collaborative Project Safety Net and Partnering for Healthy Minds, a public-private effort in the Bay Area to support individuals affected by mental illness and substance abuse.

An annual breakfast panel hosted by CHC will continue this focus on the new Teen Mental Health Initiative in March 2017. The organization's last breakfast in February, too, explored these topics, and became a jumping-off point for Children's Health Council's increased efforts

to support local youth. The nonprofit has been serving children, youth and teenagers in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties for nearly 65 years with both services and school sites and centers.

To directly involve teenagers in this effort, Children's Health Council is seeking local high school students to join a new Teen Mental Health Committee for students who "want to raise issues about teen anxiety and use their voices to implement change in the community."


Any person who is feeling depressed, troubled or suicidal is urged to call 1-800-784-2433 to speak with a crisis counselor. People in Santa Clara County can also call 1-855-278-4204.

People can also reach trained Crisis Text Line counselors by texting "HELLO" to 741741.

Links below provide more resources where one can receive help:

Resources: How to help those in crisis

Guest opinion: How to help those in crisis

Q&A about mental health: Local experts offer their advice, guidance


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37 people like this
Posted by insurance
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2016 at 2:00 pm

This sounds like an excellent and much-needed program. Will CHC accept insurance for this new program? Their other programs do NOT accept insurance.

57 people like this
Posted by Unaffordable
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Aug 2, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Without insurance, these programs are UNAFFORDABLE by most, if not all.

This is the real reason these kids get insufficient help: most programs, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, etc refuse to take insurances. Parents who try to pay out- of - pocket quickly run out of money or are forced into bankruptcy.

32 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 3, 2016 at 5:39 am

I wish the CHC would "unite and mobilize" Stanford to offer youth inpatient services. When a suicidal child or teen shows up at Stanford's ER seeking help, Stanford sends them as far away as Sacramento for treatment. Anyone who has a suicide plan must be "stabilized" before he/she can participate in an IOP. It is wonderful that CHC is helping by bringing much needed services to our community. It is time for Stanford to do the same.

14 people like this
Posted by Insurance pays therapists too little
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 3, 2016 at 8:10 am

Insurance pays therapists too little is a registered user.

@insurancea and @unaffordable bring up a vital point, most mental health professionals do NOT accept insurance! They have a valid reason, really low payments. A therapist that charges $185 and hour gets a $25 copy from the patient and $50-60 from Blue Shield. Why would you accept insurance that pays you half of your fee?

10 people like this
Posted by Elena Kadvany
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2016 at 8:16 am

CHC offers a free 30-minute consultation, a sliding scale for therapy and said the organization is also pursuing funding for additional financial aid. CHC's Community Clinic provides services to families with Medi-Cal insurance. More information on their insurance options can be found here: Web Link

30 people like this
Posted by not enough
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2016 at 10:18 am

Sliding scale and medicare are great for low-income families. However they're of no us to middle-class families with medical insurance (the majority of local families with teens in crisis). IMO it's unconscionable for a so-called nonprofit organization like CHC not to accept insurance payment.

15 people like this
Posted by fcservices
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 3, 2016 at 10:51 am

We are delighted that one of our partner nonprofit organizations is increasing support. Since we are reading in the comments concerns about affordability and access, we'd just like to let you know that Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley accepts most insurance plans and has a sliding fee scale at our Cambridge Avenue location, which offers individual and family counseling services. Palo Alto Unified School District students also are eligible for free sessions, with school referral.

20 people like this
Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 3, 2016 at 12:55 pm

I agree that the problem is gravest for middle class families. From what I understand, that is exactly whom CHC is trying to raise funding for and also looking at ways to get insurance companies to pay for ongoing therapy. Having knowledge of the insurance world, I know that insurance companies are not easy to partner with. It would be fantastic to see some of the big corporations in the valley - Google, Apple, Cisco, Facebook - take action and influence insurance providers to cover mental health as comprehensively as they cover physical health. We need it for our middle class!

7 people like this
Posted by Yupei
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 4, 2016 at 8:33 am

Many new immigrants move to Palo Alto because of its school system. I hope CHC will have therapists knowledgeable in young patients' diverse cultural backgrounds. This is an important step for our community.

Like this comment
Posted by caroline V.
a resident of Portola Valley
on Aug 11, 2016 at 9:16 am

Indeed it is fantastic that CHC is promoting mental health services; however, constituents need to know there is a collaborative effort among Stanford, our politicians and our elected/appointed officials to push for more Mental Health services, without reducing the depression and anxiety caused by gang and drug activity, bullying, sexual misconduct, harassment, intimidation by abusive faculty and staff.
Last weekend Project Safety Net Palo Alto in collaboration with former Ca Senator Darrell Sternberg, Senator Beall, Stanford Medicine, Stanford Children’s Health Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, Children’s Health Council, and the Asian Americans for Community Involvement Web Link
former Senator Steinberg has his own Mental Health Institute Web Link and is the Director of Policy and Advocacy, UC Davis Behavioral Center of Excellence.
Senator Beall is one of the many district officials who has received my requests to stop the bullying, stop the gang and drugs activity, and stop the abusive and illegal conduct by faculty and staff at our postsecondary and K-12 education systems. Unfortunately none of our elected and appointed officials have answered my requests and this has been going on since 2012.
Bullying, harassment, intimidation, sexual assault, gang activity and collaborative efforts to cover this up will lead to anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, suicide and even mass shootings.
California has the laws in place to warrant safety, equity and quality in education. California law prohibits bullying, harassment, intimidation, discrimination, sexual assault and hate crimes (e.g education law 200 et al., 220, 230, 66000 et al, 66030, 66250 et al, 66270 et al., 66290 et al,…e.g government codes 3543 et al., 3561, 3562, 3571, 11135; the Constitution article 1and 9, penal code 422.5 et al….), but under the administration of UC President Napolitano, Stanford President Hennessy, CSU Chancellor Napolitano, Superintendent Torlaksen, Superintendent Gundry, Superintendent Campbell, and Superintendent Mc Gee these laws are ignored and not enforced. PAUSD changed the wording from “shall” to “may” in AB 5145.3 (the administrative process for reporting. California has a huge debt ( , Web Link and Web Link. California failed to repay its federal loans (Web Link -

Once again this is my plea to our district officials to stop the bullying, stop the drugs and gang violence, stop the sexual assaults, stop the mobbing, and stop the cover up. We have the laws in place, they just need to be enforced. Thank you.

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