Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community


Community Matters

Christopher Dawes, president and CEO of Stanford Children's Health; Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine; and David Entwistle, president and CEO of Stanford Health Care.


The mental health of our youth has become an issue of growing national concern, with many calling for new approaches to address the unmet needs of teens. In our own community, families, school officials and health care providers have made the mental health of our youth a top priority and are committed to making substantive changes in both prevention and care. Stanford Medicine is leading the effort, working to improve mental health care for young people by filling in gaps along the spectrum from community interventions to hospitalization.

Our approach

With leadership from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, we’ve developed a multifaceted approach to meet this challenge in ways that we believe we are uniquely positioned, qualified and obligated to do. Our goals are to offer appropriate intervention at the right time, to prevent hospitalization whenever possible and to ensure that Stanford Medicine beds are available when hospitalization is needed. This is in keeping with our precision health vision to predict, prevent and cure — precisely (see related Q&A, page 5).

Young people in distress often struggle for as long as two years before receiving professional mental health treatment. To make high-quality support and care more widely available, we established the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing in 2016. The center provides early mental health support and clinical care, educational and community partnerships, and a mental health and technology program. The center is leading implementation of a pilot program called headspace, based on a successful Australian program, which provides outpatient counseling and other early-intervention services to youth.

For the most acute cases, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford is staffing adolescent inpatient psychiatry beds at Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame. Early in 2017 we also established a mental health crisis team to offer immediate evaluation for teens with suicidal behaviors and provide education about self-destructive behaviors. Later this year we will launch an intensive outpatient after-school program for at-risk youth who do not require hospitalization.

Success in collaboration

We are working with many community partners, including government agencies, schools and care providers, to ensure an integrated and innovative approach. Through our close partnerships with Project Safety Net in Palo Alto and the HEARD Alliance, for instance, we are working to increase the support available for young people and to provide community-wide education.

We are also addressing the stigma of mental illness. In August 2016, we hosted our first Adolescent Mental Wellness Conference to encourage open conversation on the issue. The conference aimed to break down stigma associated with mental health; increase communication among policymakers, educators, clinicians, teens and their families; and identify ways to increase access to care. We will sponsor the conference again in April 2018.

We stand united with many caring individuals and organizations devoting their expertise to this pressing issue. We will continue to provide compassionate support, advocate for accessible care and work to shift perceptions of mental illness so that no young person feels reluctant to ask for help.

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