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New program offers help for teens suffering mental health crises

Peak View Behavioral Health opens adolescent unit

Program offers help for mentally ill teens

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Just as President Barack Obama is calling for better mental health care in America, treatment options in southern Colorado are expanding.

Starting Monday, a new program at Peak View Behavioral Health will offer in-patient care for adolescents in crisis.

"I just see that there's a huge need in this town for treatment and that (adolescents) aren't getting it because there aren't enough beds," said Cathy Durst, a licensed counselor and chief operating officer at Peak View.

The adolescent unit will offer 20 beds, classrooms, a recreational therapy room, gymnasium and outdoor courtyard for kids aged 12-17. Patients will receive individual counseling daily.

"If a child, for instance, is suicidal because his girlfriend broke up with him, he may end up here," said Durst. "It's kids who are going through a crisis and they're a danger to themselves or others."

A problem brought to light after the Newtown, Conn. massacre is the lack of resources for parents who think their child is about to hurt him/herself or someone else. Some of the nation's worst mass shootings have been at the hands of the mentally ill.

"People don't do a sort of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde all of a sudden one day and become homicidal," said Dr. Kevin Kilimann, the psychiatrist for adolescent unit at Peak View. "It's a gradual, gradual process. That's the whole point of education and prevention, to help parents understand some of the these early signs and get help."

Over the summer, Peak View opened in its new facility near Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard. The hospital has 92 beds for adolescents, adults and geriatrics and also offers out-patient services. It's a for-profit hospital, but Durst says patients in need are never turned away because of lack of insurance or money.

Peak View provides free mental health assessments around the clock for those who call 719-444-8484 or stop by the hospital.

Cedar Springs Hospital also offers in-patient care for teens in southern Colorado.

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