ALAMEDA, Calif., June 25, 2007 -- Caring for the mental health care needs of adolescents is an urgent issue with long-term consequences for individuals, families, and the community. Untreated mental illness is often a contributing factor in these unsettling annual California statistics: 500 teens killed in motor vehicle crashes; 170 teen suicides; 3,200 young people hospitalized due to assault. Last year in Alameda County nearly 400 teenagers needed urgent attention for their serious emotional disorders. With these factors in mind, Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services, Telecare, and Seneca Center are partnering to create the Willow Rock Center in San Leandro, a combined crisis response service, 16-bed psychiatric health facility, and brief transitional outpatient program for adolescents aged 12-17. Opening of the Center is anticipated in July and a community open house is scheduled Friday, June 29, 2 p.m. “Willow Rock is an important addition to the range of vital adolescent services already organized by the County. The new Center was created for adolescents experiencing high levels of distress who need urgent support or who can benefit from a structured, safe environment. This will be the first time we have had the opportunity to provide 23-hour crisis support with two to four weeks of follow-up outpatient services,” said Carolyn Novosel, LCSW, Children & Youth Director, Behavioral Health Care Services, Alameda County. “Seneca and Telecare offer years of experience, insight, and innovative approaches for the successful treatment of serious mental illness. The integrated nature of this program will improve lives significantly while contributing to greater efficiency in how our behavioral health resources are used,” said Novosel. Voluntary crisis response services, coordinated by Seneca, will include providing families in distress with immediate intervention and support to help them cope with problems that can be resolved in 23 hours or less. Individuals at imminent risk of harm to self or others will be considered for admission to the inpatient facility. "Our family-centered, unconditional approach to providing care has been highly effective in resolving crisis situations for a diverse population of teens," said Jill Mason, Seneca’s Division Director for Residential Services. "Often a young person's situation can be managed without hospitalization by working closely with family members to stabilize their child's behavior and chart a pathway towards healing in those first hours after a crisis occurs." Telecare will operate the inpatient psychiatric health facility (12 beds will be in use initially), a short-term program designed to reduce and stabilize acute psychiatric symptoms with an emphasis on returning young people to the community. Admission to the facility will be on either a voluntary or involuntary basis. “We look forward to working closely with Seneca and the county to provide essential services to young people with urgent needs,” said Serena Lourie, Telecare’s program administrator. “We’ll care for youth with behavioral problems that can’t be addressed in an outpatient setting.” “Telecare’s innovative treatment model addresses the issues facing adolescents, such as identity, choices, power, conflicts, and learning styles,” according to Lourie. However, the Center will not be serving individuals with complex medical problems that cannot be treated on an outpatient basis, or those who have drug, alcohol abuse or an eating disorder as a primary diagnosis According to Lourie, referrals are typically made through local emergency departments or law enforcement agencies. Schools, social service agencies, parents and guardians also refer young people. The integrated program will assure that clients get extensive support for a successful transition back to families and the community following their stay at the health facility. A variety of outpatient community programs are available to help these adolescents maintain their health, safety, and ability to function successful in the community. To assure access to the program by diverse cultures, language services in Spanish, Farsi, Cantonese, and Vietnamese will be available. Willow Rock Center will also eventually serve East Bay clients of Kaiser Permanente. Referrals can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To reach the crisis program, interested persons should call 510-483-3030. And, to reach the inpatient program, the number is 510-895-5502. # # # About Telecare (www.telecare.com), based in Alameda, Calif. is one of the largest providers of mental health services in the country. Telecare works in partnership with local, county, state and other behavioral health organizations to design and provide recovery-focused services for high-risk individuals. Founded in 1965, Telecare is employee-and family-owned with over 2,000 employees and more than 50 programs in California, Texas, Oregon, Nebraska, and North Carolina. Seneca Center (www.senecacenter.org) for Children and Families provides an outstanding and unconditional continuum of care for the most seriously troubled children and their families during the most difficult time in their lives. Seneca Center, established in 1985, is a leading innovator in the field of community-based and family-based service options for children with serious emotional issues and their families. With a continuum of care ranging from intensive residential treatment to public school-based services, Seneca is one of the premier children’s mental health agencies in Northern California. Alameda County (www.bhcs.co.alameda.ca.us) is responsible for the administration of all publicly funded mental health and substance abuse services in the County. Thus we purchase (through contacts) and provide (through County staff), a range of behavioral health services for children and adolescents, including crisis intervention, substance abuse prevention, alcohol and drug treatment, residential treatment, and therapeutic behavioral services.
Contact: Shea McGuier, Telecare 510 337 7952, x159