Each year, thousands of young adults graduate from high school or college, but for those with depression, bipolar disorder or another mood disorder, this transition can be a time of great stress, uncertainty and/or paralyzing fear and apprehension.
Rogers Memorial Hospital recently opened FOCUS, a residential treatment program for young adults ages 18-30, to help address this critical need.
“Mood disorders affect nearly one in 10 people over the age of 18, making it the most common mental health problem for young people,” according to Jerry Halverson, MD, medical director for FOCUS and adult services programs at Rogers.
“Graduating high school or college are major transitional life events that dramatically impact young peoples’ routines and schedules. They also cause young people to face new challenges and anxieties whether or not they are ready for them. As a result, this can sometimes lead to a loss of interest in activities, impaired academic or work performance and even risky behavior like drugs or alcohol.”
FOCUS opened in February in a temporary location; in June, it formally moves into a renovated 16-bed facility. The program is specifically designed to help young adults who might feel stuck or like something is getting in the way of their transition to adulthood and offers patients a comfortable, home-like setting on nine acres near Rogers’ Oconomowoc campus in southeastern Wisconsin.
Dr. Halverson says the goal of FOCUS is to provide diagnostic clarity as to what really is at the root of a young adult’s transition problems. It starts with a comprehensive assessment through psychiatric evaluations and testing. He says it is rare to find someone with one diagnosis. That is why each patient has an individualized treatment plan created specifically for them to actively address and help to treat their personal issues.
“FOCUS builds upon Rogers’ strong track record with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) by utilizing behavioral activation. What we have found is that patients with depression and mood disorders tend to withdraw and isolate themselves. By using behavioral activation, we are able to gradually decrease this isolation and increase their engagement in activities so their mood improves,” Dr. Halverson said.
Patients work on getting into a routine by participating in a full day of scheduled activities. They begin each day with mindfulness meditation where they learn to be present in the moment and get centered for treatment. The day continues with interactive activities or experiential therapy. This ensures the core treatment is at a time of day when patients are most alert. CBT and behavioral activation are woven into each aspect of treatment to help patients identify the ways they may be withdrawing or avoiding activities they used to enjoy or find meaningful.
“Evidence-based therapy is the crux of FOCUS, and we designed the program to treat the mood disorder. We also provide education for basic life skills, like balancing a checkbook, creating a schedule and even connecting patients to school or work programs. We want our patients to become enthused about living again and all of the wonderful possibilities that lie ahead for them,” Dr. Halverson continued.
This is the sixth residential treatment program at Rogers Memorial Hospital since the Herrington Recovery Center opened in 1996.