Upstate opens new unit for teens facing mental health challenges but don’t need an overnight stay

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Many consider 2020 somewhat of a lost year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but at Upstate Medical University, it’s been a year of progress addressing a different kind of epidemic.

On Tuesday, leaders cut the ribbon on the unit for Upstate’s new “Intensive Outpatient Program,” which will treat children ages 13 to 18 whose lives are disrupted by their mental health challenges but don’t need to level of care of an emergency room.

The unit is on the just-renovated third floor of a building that Upstate purchased from the State Office of Mental Health, which operates Hutchings on the same campus.

Inside, the unit has an “after-school program” vibe as the patients have space to socialize with one another and do their homework, as they wait for their evening sessions to begin.

The program allows the patients to include their families, stay in school during the day and go back to their normal home life when they’re out of the sessions.

The new unit is the second mental health unit dedicated to teenagers to open on Upstate’s campus in 2020.

In January, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital opened an eight-bed unit for teenagers in a mental health crisis who needed constant care or watch.

Until this year, patients and their families looking for emergency treatment or intensive outpatient care had to travel out of the Syracuse region to find something similar.

Leaders caution that even with this success, their solution only makes a dent in the problem of a lack of mental health services for children in Central New York.


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