Teen intensive outpatient program to open

Anonymous donation allows CHC to address 'significant need'

UPDATE: CHC's intensive outpatient program will officially open on May 8. The nonprofit is currently accepting referrals.

A donation from an anonymous Palo Alto resident has enabled Children's Health Council to address a "critical gap in teen mental health services" by opening what the nonprofit says will be the city's first intensive outpatient program for teenagers with moderate to severe mental-health issues.

Children's Health Council (CHC), which provides a range of mental-health and educational services to local youth and families, plans to open the after-school therapy program on its main campus in Palo Alto in April, according to an announcement. The anonymous donation will be used to fund the program for its first year, paying for "startup costs" and financial assistance for families who need it, CHC said.

The 12-week program will serve teenagers from 14 to 18 years old struggling with depression, anxiety, self-harm or suicidal thoughts, and for whom regular outpatient therapy might not be working. Teens coming out of a psychiatric hospitalization also often transition into an intensive outpatient program.

CHC's program will offer individual, group and family therapy; psychiatric services; medication management; and components focused on teaching academic skills and mindfulness, the nonprofit said. Licensed adolescent psychiatrists and therapists will use dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive behavior therapy, two common approaches to treating mental-health disorders, to help the teens.

Teens will attend the program four afternoons a week so they can maintain their regular school routine, CHC said.

"The program covers the often overlooked but essential middle ground between weekly outpatient therapy and hospitalization, and provides transition support between the two," the press release states.

A recent Children's Health Council study found a "significant need" for a Palo Alto-based after-school therapy program for teenagers, the nonprofit said.

Currently, nearby options for teenagers and families seeking intensive outpatient services include Mountain View's El Camino Hospital, which runs the After-School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education (ASPIRE) program, Bay Area Children's Association in San Jose, Mills-Peninsula Health Services in San Mateo and Edgewood Center in San Carlos. El Camino recently expanded its ASPIRE program to serve middle school students and 18 to 25 years old in addition to high schoolers, increasing the program's capacity to 40 students.

Stanford Children's Health also recently announced plans to launch this year their own six-month after-school program for 13 to 17 year olds.

The Children's Health Council program will be able to accommodate up to eight teens on a rolling basis.

Children's Health Council intends to make the program "accessible and affordable to all teens, regardless of financial capacity," Executive Director Rosalie Whitlock said in the announcement. The program will be insurance-based and offer financial support to families.

The new after-school program is the latest piece in Children's Health Council's Teen Mental Health Initiative, launched last year to increase access to mental-health services and educate the community on youth suicide and related issues. As part of that initiative, the nonprofit is also offering free 30-minute consultations to parents who might be concerned about their teens' mental health.

"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," the nonprofit said.

Parents interested in scheduling a consultation can call 650-688-3625 or email


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13 people like this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 16, 2017 at 1:26 am

The anonymous Palo Altan is showing care and compassion, and Children's Health Council is making a welcome contribution to helping our teenagers who struggle with minds in confusion and hearts in pain.

And only a churl would disparage the work of so many local citizens who, deeply concerned about teenage despair in Palo Alto, have been working to give us crisis lines, community clinics, inpatient units, support apps and Facebook groups, and school wellness centers, wellness teams, social-emotional class lessons, therapists, and mindfulness sessions.

But wouldn't it be a good idea to get rid of some of what’s making our kids feel so awful in the first place?

Please join Save the 2,008, a community alliance to ease the daily, stressful, four-year grind at Paly and Gunn.

We're supported by 552 parents, teachers, PAMF physicians, engineers, music and drama and yoga teachers, Stanford professors, realtors, authors, and more, and we can be found at save the 2,

Let's work together on this problem, from all sides, prevention and cure.

Marc Vincenti
Gunn English Dept. (1995-2010)
Campaign Chairman

4 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Feb 16, 2017 at 9:30 am

CHC has done a wonderful job educating the community on youth mental health issues with its free parent education classes and teen mental health initiative. I'm sure CHC's outpatient program will be excellent. Hopefully, PAUSD will offer school credit for participation in CHC's program (like MVLA does with the ASPIRE program). Our community is fortunate to now have great options at the outpatient level but we still have no inpatient services for youth who are experiencing a mental health crisis. The true step-down from hospitalization is a partial hospitalization program. The newly expanded Children's Hospital at Stanford has the space and resources to provide families both hospitalization and partial hospitalization; hopefully, they will soon find the compassion to do so.

3 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Feb 16, 2017 at 9:56 am

I wanted to clarify that San Jose Behavioral Health does now offer inpatient hospitalization for teens 14-17 but it is located at the junction of 101 and 85. In-county, yes. Local-no.

9 people like this
Posted by Misha
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2017 at 5:40 pm


Enormous gratitude to the unnamed saint who has made this happen and to CHC for providing this critical service.

5 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 16, 2017 at 8:35 pm

Sincere thanks to the donor for their generosity, compassion and understanding!!!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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