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New program at Phoenix center offering mental health support for teens

The outpatient program at Café 27 is for youth between the ages of 12-17.
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 8:01 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- When a child is in a mental health crisis, parents who want to comfort their kids are sometimes forced to send them to in-patient treatment or the Emergency Department. But a new program in the Valley at Terros Health is changing that.

“Café 27 is new, we just opened last year, but we’ve already been able to help over 200 families with our program,” said Kim McWilliams, Senior Director of Clinical Excellence and Children’s Services at Terros Health.

Kids can take life skills courses, work on school assignments in an innovative computer lab, get tutoring support, attend a communication-skills training group or chat with peers, share a meal or play board or monitored computer games.

The outpatient program is for youth between the ages of 12-17, and it’s programs like this Ray Young, Site Director at Terros Health, says we need more of in Arizona. “We’re seeing more people walk in that usually wouldn’t,” he said.

McWilliams says it’s probably because parents are now more aware of the signs that their kids need help. “Sleeping more, or sleeping less than usual. This could be an increase or decrease in appetite, this could be socially withdrawing from not just family but friends,” she said.

The Mental Health in America report ranks access to and quality of care every year. The data from before the pandemic shows Arizona is one of the worst in the nation for youth mental health care. McWilliams says that might not be accurate now. “There’s been a movement in the last couple of years to really increase mental health services for kids, access to services,” she said.

McWilliams explains that the Grand Canyon state has many rural communities, which could add to the problem. “So we know that it is harder to a lot of our state because there is a lot of rural areas. So if you take Phoenix, we have the providers, but the need is so great with the population and our rural populations there are hardly any providers,” she explained.

The center has been so successful that Terros Health was awarded $600,000 in federal funding to open a second center in Mesa. For more information, visit terroshealth.org or call 602-389-3660.