By Sokunliny Kong and Violet Gabales
It’s a startling statistic: Nearly half of all lifetime mental illness cases in the U.S. begin by age 14, yet 79% of youth needing care don’t receive it. A new approach to youth mental health care in California care hopes to change that startling dynamic. The “allcove” program brings youth voices in order to create a “with, for, and by youth” experience.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, adolescents and young adults aged 15–24 had a suicide rate of 14 per 100,000 individuals. Too often, California’s youth face a lack of access to emotional and mental health support. The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission provides funding for innovative services and programs to address this issue. One of the state-funded programs, which tackles the mental health issues of youth, is the allcove™ program.
allcove is Santa Clara County’s first integrated care center for ages 12–25, established in partnership with Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing, Stanford Medicine Children’s Health and Alum Rock Counseling Center.
The program was created to alleviate the stigma around mental health by creating a safe, therapeutic environment for young people. allcove offers a variety of services to assist young people, including mental health, physical health, substance use, supported education and employment, peer and family support and assistance with locating outside resources. Services are provided by allcove’s professional counselors, peer support specialists, supported education/employment specialists and medical providers.
The elements of the allcove program are developed through Youth Advisory Groups, which consist of twelve to fifteen members between the ages of 16–25, diverse in race, sexual orientation, experience, socioeconomic status, and ability. The groups provide guidance and feedback on allcove policies, structure, and services.
allcove not only hopes to reach youth through on-site appointments and walk-ins but at school and online as well. For young people to feel comfortable and understood, allcove emphasizes that emotions exist on a spectrum; and the program adapts to youth’s unique and fluctuating needs. allcove allows young people to choose in-person therapy, a simple supportive conversation, open or private meeting spaces, and more.
Youth who feel unsafe at home or with their guardians have access to a secure environment at allcove. allcove centers follow state and federal guidelines in terms of consent for services so in many situations parental consent is not required for youth to access these drop-in centers. All services offered by allcove are free or low cost, and the costs of services are not billed to insurance providers.
allcove is supported by California’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSAOAC). Following allcove’s initial success, additional centers have been funded in San Mateo, Sacramento, UC Irvine, and Los Angeles County.
allcove’s innovative network delivers culturally competent services and provides a safe environment for youth seeking mental health assistance — by allowing young people to embrace mental wellness and find a supportive community.
Learn more about allcove.