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Health

Missoula's New Mental Health Unit Focuses On Adolescents

St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.
St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.

Intensive psychiatric services for youth in Missoula are scarce but Providence St. Patrick Hospital’s just expanded that capacity. The brand new 14-bed Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatric Unit serves patients, ages 12 to 17, who are experiencing significant mental health crises.

A crisis can run the gamut from suicidal thoughts and significant depression to eating disorders.

The Unit’s goal is to stabilize these young people enough to get them into preventive outpatient-based treatment, according to Providence Montana’s Chief Executive Joyce Dombrouski.

She said there is a tremendous need for this service across western Montana.

“We have had a four-bed unit over at the Providence Center that oftentimes is full,” Dombrouski said. “When we had the opportunity to relook at a floor in the Providence Center for what we could do to meet a great need, the Adolescent Inpatient Unit was top of mind.”

While she isn’t a mental health expert, Dombrouski suspects the global pandemic is contributing to an already-growing demand for adolescent mental health care services.

“We just do know that we were not able to treat these adolescents in this community and had to find alternative placements for them, which is very difficult in difficult family situations, and so we feel really good about being able to provide it in Missoula," she said.

Dombrouski said Providence’s new psychiatric unit is designed to work with, not compete against, other local mental health care providers.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.