Adolescent Dual Diagnosis Program Launched for Mental Health and Wellness
Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach launched a program for adolescents who
are struggling with both psychological issues and chemical dependency.
It is the first hospital-based intensive outpatient dual diagnosis program
for adolescents in Orange County, and it is designed to meet a huge need
in the community — helping our adolescents aged 14 to 17 years old,
cope with mental health and wellness.
“Many teens are in a broken state, and we can’t give up on
them,” says Debbie Hutchinson, Psy.D., manager of outpatient behavioral
health services at
Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach. “They need guidance, education and support to help
them move forward in life. Through this program, we want to give them
the tools and the hope to live a better life.”
The program is designed as a five-week comprehensive after-school intensive
outpatient program led by licensed psychologists and marriage and family
therapists. Adolescents attend three groups a day Monday through Thursday,
from 4 to 7:30 p.m. where they learn ways to achieve and maintain sobriety,
as well as manage co-occurring mood and behavioral disorders.
There is also individual therapy for each adolescent as well multi-family
and individual family sessions.
“We know we can’t send a teen to treatment, give them the tools,
and expect them to go back to the same family environment and have everything
run smoothly,” Hutchinson says. “That’s why we’re
also providing help for parents, so they have the necessary skills to
support their teens at home.”
While the groups have a psycho-educational and psychotherapeutic framework,
there is also an emphasis on experiential therapy, which involves actions,
movements and activities. Complementary approaches such as yoga and art
therapy are included each week.
“Emotional pain should not be the leading force in the lives of families,”
Hutchinson says. “Instead, healthy relationships and a healthy approach
to life should take the lead, with individuals living life as if it counts
and as if they make a positive difference ... because it does and they
can,” she says.
For more information about mental health and wellness services at Mission
Signs Your Teen May Need Help
Are you concerned that your teen is going through more than just the typical
adolescent phase? Here are specific signs to look for that could be an
indication that your teen may need a professional, mental health evaluation:
- Intense or frequent mood swings (angry outbursts)
- A notable drop in grades
- Bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils and/or changes in sleep patterns
- Change in character (dishonest, secretive, paranoid)
- Decrease in personal hygiene
- Intentional isolation
There is no shame in reaching out for support — our experts are here to help.
A Promise to Talk Reduces the Stigma Around Mental Health
For months, Maricela suffered from constant depression, self-guilt, extreme
irritability and loneliness. The 43-year-old mother spent countless days
and nights caring for her youngest son who struggled with a digestive
condition and autism that caused him to cry from the moment he woke up
until he went to bed. The turning point in her journey was when she found
the courage to ask for help, and she began one-on-one and group counseling.
“Each time I talked about my depression, the self-guilt and stress
I felt decreased and I felt mentally stronger and better,” recalls
Maricela, a Lake Forest resident. “I recognize that my well-being
today would not have been possible without talking about my emotions with
In collaboration with the statewide movement called Each Mind Matters,
Mission Hospital is encouraging people in our communities, like Maricela,
to talk openly and honestly about mental health. Doing so leads to early
support and help that reduces needless suffering and saves lives.
Launched in the spring of 2015, the local outreach program, Promise to
Talk, provides information, tools and resources to help people start conversations
in a safe way. Through this program, they’ve been able to create
more than 5,000 personal encounters and gather nearly 600 written promises to talk.
“When it comes to health, our minds deserve the same attention as
our bodies,” says Christy Cornwall, director of community benefit
for Mission Hospital. “The intention is to reduce the stigma of
mental health so people feel safe to talk with someone, whether that’s
with a therapist, physician, faith leader or someone at their school.
People are hungry to become whole as a human being, and finding that pathway
to begin the conversation is the hardest part.”
As part of this outreach, Mission Hospital supports communities through
local in-neighborhood visits, community event participation, sponsored
bus advertising, local print and broadcast public service announcements, and more.
Become a part of the mental health movement and make a “Promise to
Talk” about mental health. Go to PromiseToTalk.org, @PromiseToTalk
via Facebook or Twitter.