allcove, a First-of-its-Kind Integrated Care and Mental Health Site for Young People, Opens in United States

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Friday, June 25, 2021

“allcove,” a First-of-its-Kind Integrated Care/Mental Health Site for Young People, Opens in United States

Years in the Making, A Tremendous Collaboration to Support the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Our Youth and Young Adults

SAN JOSE, CA – Today, a first-of-its-kind integrated care center for youth and young adults ages 12-25 years old, begins offering services to support mental health and wellbeing in Palo Alto, CA and San Jose, CA. 

The opening of the two centers culminates a multi-year effort to bring integrated mental health resources to local youth. These services have been championed by County Supervisor Joe Simitian with Santa Clara County’s Behavioral Health Services, Stanford’s Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Children’s Health, and Alum Rock Counseling Services.

“Time after time, the saddest part of the story is that a teen didn’t reach out earlier, didn’t have the opportunity to get help when and where they needed it,” said Simitian. “The appeal of the allcove model is it’s designed to engage young people who are struggling, long before they hit a crisis point.”

“I want our youth to feel comfortable and safe when accessing these services,” said Simitian. “Eliminate the stigma. Eliminate the hassle. The years of effort are finally paying off with two centers: one in the North County where the need is great, and access has been challenging; and one in San Jose, the population center of our county,” he said.

“The opening of the first U.S. integrated youth mental health center has been our vision for the past nine years,” said Steven Adelsheim, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford. Adelsheim directs the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing. “I am grateful to Santa Clara County leaders, our allcove youth advisors, our community partners and generous funders, and our Stanford Medicine team for making this vision of early access a reality for our community at this critical time of need. We hope these first allcove centers will ultimately serve as a state and national model of how to best support the health, needs and voices of our young people." 

Based on an international model, allcove is a unique, innovative partnership model that brings together multiple providers in a welcoming space designed with, by and for youth.  The first-of-its-kind in the United States, allcove centers embrace mental wellness, increase community connection, and provide access to culturally responsive services. Young people can visit an allcove center to seek peer support and access a range of services including on-site mental health counseling paired with physical health services, substance use services, family support, and supported education and employment. They can also receive supported referrals and be linked to intensive treatment programs or other needs such as housing.

“Places like allcove are important because they allow youth to be an integral part of a conversation that is typically very adult – and institution-focused. This is vital because the way we handle and speak about mental health influences how people cope with their mental health and search for services,” shared Emily, allcove Palo Alto youth advisor.

Young people co-created the new allcove centers – from the look and feel, to the options they have to engage in center activities. Even the name, allcove, was chosen by the Youth Advisory Group to represent the vision that every youth belongs, and chooses the support they need, all in a safe and comforting environment.

From 2003 to 2015, Palo Alto had the highest suicide rate in Santa Clara County among youth 10 to 24 years old, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The 2017 CDC report also noted that one in four youth, ages 18 to 24, said they had "seriously considered" suicide in the past 30 days — more than twice as high as any other age group. In 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for young people in the U.S.[1]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, young people have experienced major disruptions, including school closures, social isolation, financial hardships, and gaps in health care access. Many parents have reported poor mental health outcomes in their children throughout the pandemic – and in a Gallup poll taken in May 2020, shortly after the pandemic began, 29% said their child’s mental or emotional health was already harmed.[2] Health experts at Stanford Children’s Health have also reported that some children have also exhibited increased irritability, clinginess, and fear, and have had issues with sleeping and poor appetite.   

allcove centers fill a need to serve young people experiencing behavioral and emotional challenges,” said Sherri Terao, Director, County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department. “By providing behavioral health and other services under one roof where every youth can experience a sense of belonging, we are creating access to a range of services and care for young people. We are also breaking down barriers such as health insurance status, which we know can affect a youth’s access to care. We are making it possible for more young people to improve their mental, physical and emotional health.”

“Having to deal with being isolated from friends, family and school during the pandemic has had a big impact on young people’s mental health so the opening of these centers in San Jose and Palo Alto could not have come soon enough,” said County Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “I want our youth to know that no matter what you may be dealing with, you will always be able to drop in and talk to someone here with all services in one place.”

“Alum Rock Counseling Center is proud to be a core partner of the new allcove centers. As Alum Rock Counseling Center has long history of providing both behavioral health and various community support programs for youth and families, allcove is a perfect fit,” said Steve Eckert, CEO, Alum Rock Counseling. “We are excited to provide peer support (case management, interesting activities, and outreach), and to lead the Community Consortiums, which are advisory boards for each allcove center with members representing schools, community-based agencies, elected officials and neighborhood groups.”

Through the summer, the allcove centers will be open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Service offerings will be added as demand increases and service needs are identified. For more information, visit www.allcove.org

allcove timeline

2014 Steven Adelsheim, MD, received the first grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to explore the feasibility of expanding the headspace model to the US.
2015 Palo Alto Unified School District and City of Palo Alto ask Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) to request assistance from the CDC/SAMSHA to develop prevention and control recommendations. The California Department of Public Health issued a formal request to the CDC for assistance, on behalf of SCCPHD.
December 2015 Steven Adelsheim, MD, shares with community stakeholders (including Supervisor Simitian) the “headspace” international model developed in Australia.
June 2016 Integrated, youth-focused model (allcove, then named “headspace”) sponsored for inclusion in the County budget by County Supervisor Joe Simitian.
August 2016 Preliminary findings of CDC Epi-Aid Report on Youth Suicide in Santa Clara County presented to Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
November 2017 The allcove project was approved by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
March 2018 First allcove Youth Advisory Group formed and begins providing guidance on allcove program and site development.
November 2018 Santa Clara County gains state approval for use of innovation funds for allcove site development by the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission.
Sept/Oct 2019 Lease agreements executed, and construction build-out begins of allcove centers.
June 2021 Palo Alto and San Jose allcove centers open.

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[1] https://wisqars-viz.cdc.gov:8006/lcd/home

[2] https://news.gallup.com/poll/312605/parents-say-covid-harming-child-mental-health.aspx​

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