Getting NorCal Teens Best Mental Health Support Is a Priority
May 28, 2024
Sutter Health
Youth hugging

By Marycon Young, Vitals contributor

Super Bowl Sunday in the Stice household is typically a festive occasion filled with friends and a smorgasbord of tempting snacks. But in 2019, Ryan Stice and his wife found themselves at the Sutter Center for Psychiatry instead, seeking urgent care for their 14-year-old daughter, Audrey.

“Our Super Bowl Sunday plans abruptly changed, and our focus was on our daughter,” recalls Stice, who is chief pharmacy officer at Sutter Health.

Audrey struggled with severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Her therapist recommended a 5150 hold — a temporary, involuntary psychiatric commitment for individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others. This led the Stice family to a hospital emergency department, where they spent a harrowing night waiting for Audrey to be transferred to a suitable facility. Fortunately, a bed became available at the Sutter Center for Psychiatry in Sacramento, ensuring Audrey received the necessary care close to home.

Reflecting on the experience, Stice shared, “The support and care we received from Sutter Health were instrumental in Audrey’s recovery. Knowing that we had access to such comprehensive and compassionate services made all the difference.”

Adolescence challenges both teens and their parents — marked by rapid physical, emotional and social changes. For many, it is also a time when mental health issues surface.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five youth ages 13-18 will experience mental health challenges.

Innovative Programs and Holistic Care

Sutter Health’s commitment to adolescent mental health is evident in its diverse services. The Sutter Center for Psychiatry offers inpatient and outpatient services tailored to adolescents. Programs like Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Therapy provide structured support for teens who can still live at home, serving as vital bridges for those transitioning from inpatient care.

The stand-alone psychiatric hospital in Sacramento isn’t the only Sutter facility or program offering help for today’s teens. Since June 2023, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in San Mateo has integrated art, drama and music therapies in its adolescent programs, helping more than 350 patients process their emotions creatively. In the digital realm, the award-winning Scout by Sutter Health™ app offers resilience strategies, non-clinical screenings and personalized content to help teens manage their mental health, garnering over 6,000 users and 11,000 downloads since its launch.

The Importance of Family Support

The Stice family’s experience emphasizes the indispensable role of family support in adolescent mental health. Ryan Stice stresses the need for parents to be patient, listen, respect boundaries and validate their children’s feelings.

“Talking to teens can be a challenge,” Stice says. “Be patient; your teen may not be ready to tell you about their problems right away. It needs to be on their schedule, not yours. Listening to them without interruption and respecting their boundaries is important. Let them know their feelings are valid.”

Audrey’s story also illustrates the broader impact of accessible mental health services. With the support of Sutter Health’s outpatient programs, Audrey received timely professional support and guidance, and is now thriving. As a sophomore in college today, she majors in psychology with hopes of helping others with similar challenges in the future.

As adolescent mental health challenges continue to rise, the need for comprehensive, accessible and compassionate care becomes more pressing. Sutter Health is investing in the integration of traditional therapeutic approaches with cutting-edge digital tools and expressive therapies to address the immediate needs of young patients and foster lasting well-being.

Click here for more information on Sutter Health’s commitment to mental health.

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