ST. LOUIS, Mo. – SSM Health Medical Group offers an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for teens ages 11-18 who are struggling with mental illness, depression and anxiety.  The program which takes place at the Medical Building on Smizer Mill Road in Fenton, is led by therapists who customize the therapy for each group setting.  Beth Strautz is the manager of the outpatient behavioral health program who says the program is three evenings a week from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm for a minimum of five to six weeks.  The program offers a combination of talk and medical therapies. 

Parents and/or guardians are also involved in the IOP and receive support and education for the teens in the program.  Parents or guardians come to family therapy once a week. 

Referrals to the program come from numerous resources including parents, doctors, community partners, emergency rooms, and school counselors.  Beth says the signs that your teen needs therapeutic support can include your teen having consistently low moods, isolating, dropping grades, anxiety, persistent worry or fears, and often suicidal thoughts.  Teens involved in the IOP receive the benefit of the group setting with their peers where they can feel safe to express what they need.  Beth says they often realize once they are in the group setting that they are not alone. 

Beth also says that Covid-19 increased the number of teens seeking or being referred to intensive therapy.  The isolation, virtual learning, and re-entry back to school created additional stress for many teens.  Most therapy programs have had a significant increase in referrals in the past two years.  Once a teen completes the IOP, they are referred to a step-down or lower-level care program for ongoing support.

To learn more about the Behavioral Health program, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7pm and FOX 2 News at 9pm.