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Home » Mental Health » How The LifeLaunch Is Helping Adolescents Take Control of Their Mental Health

Teens are experiencing a mental health crisis, with many reporting anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

The data is significant. According to The U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory, pre-pandemic, up to 1 in 5 kids ages 3 to 17, had a mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral disorder. Youth psychiatric visits to emergency departments for anxiety, depression, and behavioral challenges were up 28 percent between 2011 and 2015.

Suicide rates among young people ages 10-24 increased by 57 percent between 2007 and 2018, and National Center for Health Statistics’ early estimates suggest there were 6,600 deaths by suicide in 2020 among the 10-24 age group.

The proportion of high school students who had persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased by 40 percent from 2009 to 2019; that same group had a 36 percent increase in seriously considering attempting suicide; and approximately 1 in 6 youth created a suicide plan, a 44 percent increase in 10 years.

“The last two years have very much changed our norms and routines,” says Harsh K. Trivedi, M.D., MBA, president and CEO of Sheppard Pratt, noting during the pandemic, teens feel more isolated and lonelier, have lost social supports, and have missed rites of passage like prom.

“Adolescence is a period of getting to figure out who you are, who you want to be,” he says. “There’s this very introspective part of growth that happens during adolescence and when there’s so much tumultuousness in the world outside, it’s a lot harder to get your bearings of who you are inside.”

The LifeLaunch

Now The LifeLaunch, a new short-term residential program, provides teens experiencing mental health conditions — including depression, anxiety, and other diagnoses — with comprehensive and clinically intensive therapeutic offerings.

It’s called LifeLaunch because adolescence is when teens figure out who they are, and sets the trajectory of what they want their lives to be.

The private pay treatment program by Sheppard Pratt recently opened in Maryland. Sheppard Pratt, the country’s largest private, nonprofit provider of mental health, substance use, special education, developmental disability, and social services, is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top national psychiatric hospital.

The around-the-clock program, considered the gold-standard in compassionate care support and expertise, is the next step if outpatient therapy or other interventions haven’t been sufficient in treating a teen’s mental health needs. It’s also highly effective for teens who are stepping down from acute inpatient care.

Understanding the whole child

Adolescents, ages 12-17, stay in the residential, full-service setting for one to three months, where they receive comprehensive and clinically intensive therapeutic services, delivered by a multidisciplinary treatment team. The goals are for teens to get through their current crisis; address underlying mental health issues; establish an effective and holistic treatment plan; and develop the coping, communication, and emotion regulation skills they need to return home. 

“It’s a fundamentally different way of providing treatment that’s not based on a diagnosis or a particular treatment modality,” says Dr. Trivedi. “At Sheppard Pratt, we really get to take the time to understand the whole child as well as their family, and the hopes for what the future should bring.”

Evidence-based treatment modalities are tailored to a teen’s specific needs. Clinical staff evaluate the teen and determine the most appropriate set of treatment modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), exposure with response prevention (ERP), family therapy, and more.

Sheppard Pratt ensures teens continue their education during their treatment by providing them with an academic liaison, as well as tutors and other academic support as needed.

Dr. Trivedi encourages parents to consider Sheppard Pratt and The LifeLaunch as a first treatment option.

“We have people that have decades of experience working with adolescents,” he says. “From the first moment you pick up the phone and you call, we are by your side and we will guide you to what is the best treatment option or program for your adolescent.”

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