Hope for Adolescents with Mood Disorders as Rogers New Residential Program Opens

Posted on 02/19/16 02:37:pm

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Imagine a 16-year-old girl sitting in her room, overwhelmed by her own emotions. She was once outgoing and involved in high school sports and clubs, but now she finds herself wanting to just be alone. She carries around thoughts in her head that confuse and exhaust her, feeling like she can’t connect with her family or friends. 

This is just one example of the type of situation a teenager may be in that Rogers can help with its new FOCUS Adolescent Mood Disorders Program planned for opening in March. This program offers comprehensive residential treatment for adolescents age 13 to 17 struggling with primary mood disorders, bipolar disorder, depression and co-occurring disorders. The program becomes Rogers’ eighth residential treatment program on the campus of Rogers Memorial Hospital–Oconomowoc.

Peggy Scallon, MD, who joined Rogers in February, will serve as medical director. She has spent much of her 20 years in psychiatry treating children and adolescents. “I love to work with children and teens because they are so honest and engaging. They have their whole lives ahead of them, so the positive impact of effective treatment will be with them for decades,” says Dr. Scallon. “I am so excited about the new FOCUS Adolescent Mood Disorders unit because I want to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our patients and their families. We have an enthusiastic team and we will transmit our passion for working with youth into change for the better.”

This new program will complement Rogers’ existing treatment specialties. “The FOCUS Adolescent Program will expand Rogers’ current programming for anxietyobsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders, to address youth with depressive disorders,” says Dr. Scallon. “We recognize that adolescents with depressive disorders may have a complicated mental health situation that can also include trauma, family difficulties and experimentation with substances. This program will be able to address the multiple factors that may be contributing to a teen’s mental health difficulty.”

“This FOCUS program is different from Rogers’ other adolescent residential programs because it provides treatment to teens who are experiencing more severe symptoms than we’d normally serve in our other programs,” says Eddie Tomaich, PhD, manager of the FOCUS adolescent program. “Staff in this program will be cross-trained to handle more complex cases, such as teens that may have anxiety coupled with severe depression.”

Treatment involves evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and is supported by behavioral activation, mindfulness skills and strong family involvement. “We’ve found that when patients practice behavioral activation, or gradually reboot their activity levels, such as through exercise or public outings, they become less likely to isolate themselves and experience a decrease in their depressive symptoms,” says Dr. Tomaich. Through this program, our patients’ families have access to Parent University, a program that educates families and prepares them with skills to help their child make a more successful transition from our care to home life.

Dr. Scallon explains the goal of the FOCUS adolescent program is to teach teens techniques they can use to better cope with life’s challenges. “In the program, we will use individual, group and family therapy strategies that build upon existing strengths and teach new skills,” she says. “Our emphasis upon psychotherapy will empower our residents to leave the program, and return to their lives healthier and happier.”

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