Neurobehavioral Program: ASPIRE - Adolescent Mental Health
Families across Orange County are facing significant and increasing challenges
with their adolescents. Little support exists for children and their parents
moving through this fragile stage of development. For many families, unaddressed
neurobehavioral challenges have become devastating catastrophes.
In 2010, 30% of students in the Newport-Mesa school district reported drug
abuse. 50% reported alcohol abuse, and the numbers continue to rise. Cooccurring
mental health disorders feed and are fed by this substance abuse epidemic.
If you are a parent of a teen in Orange County today, you likely have
your own story – direct or indirect – to underscore this unfortunate reality.
Hoag Neurosciences Institute has launched a programmatic answer to this
glaring community need: ASPIRE (After School Program: Intervention and
Resiliency Education) is an intensive outpatient program for adolescents,
ages 13-17, with primary mental health disorders and possible co-occurring
substance abuse challenges. The program is evidence-based and outcomes
driven, and guides teens and their families through an eightweek curriculum
of skills-based training in stress management, resiliency, interpersonal
communication, mental health and substance abuse education.
The program is offered at Hoag’s Center for Healthy Living in Newport
Beach, with an additional location in Irvine in development.
• Adolescents 13-17 and their parents
• 8-week outpatient program; skills-based curriculum
• 4 nights weekly for 3 hours; parents 1 night weekly
• Multidisciplinary; psychiatrists, therapists, RNs
• Collaborative with local schools; school credit earned
• Early intervention
• De-stigmatize mental illness and mental health care
• Promote mental and behavioral health and well-being
• Emphasize “skill building & resiliency training”;
• Empower parents for the unique demands of this life stage
• Help adolescents navigate the challenges inherent in the age, and
build a foundation for young adulthood
Hoag is working in close collaboration with both Newport-Mesa Unified School
District and Huntington Beach Unified School District. Hoag is positioned
to support high school teens identified with mental health challenges
by the school staff. Hoag and the school districts are working to provide
high school credit to those adolescents that complete the ASPIRE program.
The Aspire clinical team is led by Sina Safahieh,M.D. Dr Safahieh is board
certified in child and adolescent psychiatry, and will provide the program’s
medical and clinical leadership, creating a unique partnership between
Hoag and CHOC to meet this community need.
Jerry Weichman, Ph.D., is the program’s clinical advisor. Dr Weichman
specializes in mental health treatment for teens and their parents. Dr
Weichman owns The Weichman Clinic, oversees the Hoag Teen Brain program,
and he is a published author and sought-after speaker.
Kevin Alexander, DBH, LPCC, is the clinical program manager. Dr Alexander
recruited the clinical team, structured the program content, and has positioned
ASPIRE to be a model for adolescent mental health treatment. Dr Alexander
is overseeing the program’s clinical and patient experience outcomes
that are in the beginning stages of data collection given the recent launch
of the program.