Upstate’s new mental health program bridges the gap for teens as the need for mental health services grows

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The demand for stronger mental health services for teens has been a longtime need in Central New York, and that need has only grown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Jessica Costosa-Umina is Upstate Medical University’s Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program Director, and she said there’s no other mental health program for teens like this in the Syracuse area.

There really was only outpatient and sometimes we would sort of do things in our child clinics to increase our services as best that we could, but we could never get to this level of care.

A lot of what was happening was if teens wanted to do something like an intensive outpatient program, they would have to go to Saratoga for four weeks as an example.

Dr. Jessica Costosa-Umina, Director, Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program at Upstate

The new program is aimed at two types of teens, ages 13 to 18, who need critical services.

The first type is for teens who require a step above what’s available with outpatient care. The second is for those who might be coming out of intensive or residential treatments.

What our program does is [it] kind of bridges the gap between the two. For a lot of those kids, the traditional outpatient psychiatric treatment is not enough for them, and they need more.

We want them to get those services and keep them at home, keep them part of their community, work with their families and work with them in real time while they are experiencing these crisis.

Dr. Jessica Costosa-Umina, Director, Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program at Upstate

The program is designed for kids to have up to ten hours of care in one week, which includes services such as:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Parent and patient coaching
  • Medication management

“We’re creating the sense of community to make sure they aren’t alone,” Dr. Jessica Costosa-Umina, Director, Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program

Dr. Costosa-Umina said her team is still in the midst of hiring additional staff, but once that’s complete, the program will have the ability to help up to 40 teens each week.

For more information about the program, you can give Dr. Costosa-Umina a call at (315) 464-3191.

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