At Desert Hills, we recognize the many trials and tribulations that young people face as they travel through the various stages of childhood and adolescence. This is a time where children and adolescents are trying to figure out who they are as individuals and, as such, are confronted with many questions about different aspects of their existence. When these children and adolescents are confronted with the added challenge of being faced with the often debilitating symptoms of depression, their abilities to face daily stresses and move forward through the various stages of development become greatly hindered. At Desert Hills, we recognize the added struggles that children and adolescents who are suffering from depression face and have therefore designed specific programming options that are tailored to meet the unique and sensitive needs of these youth.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Desert Hills provides a full continuum of behavioral healthcare services that range from sub-acute residential treatment to community-based programs for children, adolescents, and their families. Since its opening in 1990, Desert Hills has grown from a small residential program to the largest and most respected provider of behavioral health services in the state of New Mexico, offering three different locations where individuals can access services. In order to ensure that we are offering the highest quality of care possible while meeting all of our patients unique needs, we provide ongoing training for and supervision of all our staff members, making sure they are up-to-date on the latest evidence-based treatment modalities. Because we are able to offer each child and adolescent customized and personal care, we can address the specific problems that depression has imposed on your child’s life and help him or her develop the skills needed to return to living the healthy, happy life that or she deserves to be living. At Desert Hills, we are dedicated to not only improving the lives we touch, but to helping to change the lives of those we serve, one child at a time.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
If you have a child who you feel may be suffering from depression, it can be difficult to know what you can do to help. You have likely become worried as you watch your child isolate him or herself, as you see his or her academic performance begin to decline, and as you notice that he or she no longer seems interested in things that he or she once showed much interest in. As you watch your child fall deeper into the throes of depression, you are likely concerned as to what his or her future holds. You are probably wondering whether or not he or she is experiencing suicidal ideation or has begun the devastating act of engaging in self-harming behaviors. While it can be a heart-wrenching and frightening time, there are things that you can do as you take steps towards getting your child the help that he or she needs. Consider the following:
- Educate yourself on depression. While it may seem obvious as to what this condition entails, familiarizing yourself with the way in which this illness presents in children can assist you in better understanding what your child is going through, as well as give you a better gauge on the severity of your child’s condition.
- Talk to your child. While it may be likely that your child will not fully open up and divulge all of the emotions that he or she is experiencing, simply allowing him or her to know that there is a safe space available for him or her to do so can help immensely.
- Research various treatment options, focusing particularly on such options that provide specialized services for children and adolescents.
- Be open and honest with your child about your thoughts regarding him or her engaging in treatment. While the initial response may be one of resistance, it is important that the lines of communication remain open so that your child has the opportunity to play a role in the decision process.
- Ensure that your child participates in a consultation with a mental health professional. Adhere to any recommendations that the professional offers.
- Remain an active part of your child’s treatment process. The more engaged you are, the more positive the outcomes will inevitably be.
Why Consider Treatment at Desert Hills
The detriments that the presence of depression can impose on the lives of children and adolescents who are afflicted by it can seem endless. The overwhelming thoughts of despair that plague these children often lead them to experience unwavering feelings of helplessness to change and hopelessness about their futures. The simply act of getting out of bed in the morning and having to face the day can be more than these children feel they can bear. It can be frustrating for those in these children’s lives because it is difficult to understand why such seemingly menial tasks seem to take such great effort. These children and adolescents may feel incapable of attending school and may subsequently watch as their grades begin to drastically decline. Interacting socially can seem nearly impossible, resulting in increased isolation and the lowering of one’s self-esteem. In many cases, sadly, the cyclical patterns of these children’s thoughts leads them down the path to experiencing suicidal ideation and, for some, tragically resulting in making attempts at suicide. But the futures of these children do not have to be so bleak. There is help available.
Residential treatment programs have proven to be effective in helping children and adolescents overcome the debilitating symptoms of severe depression. By entering into these programs, children are being afforded the opportunity to walk into an environment where they are free from the stresses of their everyday lives. They no longer have to face the aspects of their lives that are causing them distress or that are triggering their feelings of depression, but instead are able to place all of their energy solely on becoming well again. In this setting, not only do children have access to the support and guidance of mental health professionals, but they also have the opportunity to interact with peers who are facing similar struggles. These children can work together, learn from each other, and grow together, all the while developing the skills they need to confront their challenges, overcome their trials, and face their futures with the confidence they need to be successful.
Program Philosophy and Benefits
At Desert Hills, our philosophy is based on the approach that treatment should be centered on patients and their families. We train, facility wide, on the Nurtured Heart Approach in order to provide our patients and their families with inner wealth and opportunities to grow. We are dedicated to using evidence-based treatment modalities on every unit to ensure that patients and their families have the highest likelihood of obtaining long-term, successful outcomes. It is our mission to provide high-quality, comprehensive behavioral and mental healthcare services to children, adolescents, and their families by offering a fully array of therapeutic interventions across a vast spectrum of care. All of our services are individualized, culturally sensitive, and fully centered on our patients and their families. The clinical emphasis at Desert Hills is placed on assessment, treatment planning, discharge, and aftercare planning, with the all-encompassing goal of preparing patients to have a successful future in home, at school, and within the community.
Types of Treatment Offered at Desert Hills
Here at Desert Hills, we have 10 distinct units, each of which features programming that is designed specifically to address the needs of a wide variety of populations. Each unit follows a chief treatment modality throughout its programming, which coincides with the needs of the patients on that particular unit. Desert Hills strives to use evidence-based treatment modalities on every unit in order to ensure that patients have the highest likelihood of obtaining long-term, successful outcomes. Described in more detail below are some of the services that Desert Hills affords our patients:
Medication management: Medication management is provided for all patients throughout each one of our treatment programs. This is done so as to make sure that each patient is fully supported in getting all of his or her medication needs taken care of, while simultaneously being properly monitored to ensure the therapeutic effectiveness of any medications that have been prescribed. For children and adolescents who are battling depression, psychotropic medications like antidepressants or, in some cases, anti-anxiety agents, can greatly help to alleviate the distressing symptoms associated with this condition, while also assisting in stabilizing one’s mood.
Individual therapy: On each unit, patients are provided with at least one individual session per week. These sessions are meant to be a time where patients can meet with a therapist in a safe and confidential setting in order to process through specific concerns they are facing, keep track of personal treatment goals, and work on individual skills-building in order to more effectively cope with stresses and triggers.
Group therapy: Here at Desert Hills, all of our patients attend group therapy at a minimum of three times per week. These group sessions offer children and adolescents the opportunity to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Some of the topics that are covered in these groups, depending on the specific program that a patient is taking part in, include interpersonal effectiveness, conflict resolution, anger management, stress management, and correcting and replacing thinking errors. For those patients who are also struggling with substance abuse concerns, psycho-educational groups are held regarding the effect of substance abuse on the body, brain, and overall functioning.
Family therapy: Since family involvement is important to the overall success of recovery, we hold at least one family therapy session per week for each patient. Family therapy focuses on guiding and facilitating an open dialogue, as well as educating parents, caregivers, and other family members on the intervention skills that are being used in treatment. The process of doing so will help ensure the patient’s success long after discharge.
Educational services: Continuing one’s education while at Desert Hills is a very important part of our treatment program. Schooling at Desert Hills provides our patients with a positive, safe, and individualized place to learn and grow. All teachers communicate weekly with the treatment team, assuring consistency in the individual goals set for each student.
Additional services that are available depending upon each patient’s specific needs include:
- Services for deaf and hard of hearing patients (administered by deaf therapists and other mental health technicians that are trained in American Sign Language)
- Art therapy
- Music therapy
- Play therapy
- Equine therapy
- Canine therapy
- High and low ropes courses
- Peer council
- Red Rocks Group (a Native American peer group)
- Bilingual mobile assessments
- NA / AA meetings for patients who are struggling with substance abuse concerns
Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment
All patients from our residential treatment center have the opportunity to step down to one of our many outpatient care options, of which include the following:
Clinical day treatment program: This program allows patients to live at home, while also addressing any behavioral or academic issues they may have. These services are provided on a year-round basis for children and adolescents who are middle school through high school aged. There are both regular and special education services available, allowing students to earn summer credits and catch up if they have fallen behind academically. Additional services include group therapy and various experiential therapies.
Group homes: Designed to provide patients who are between the ages of 16 and 21 in need a structured home-based living situation, our group homes provide services that are focused on psychosocial skills development and functioning in the community.
Treatment foster care: This program is licensed and certified by the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department to license, train, and support treatment foster parents and treat children between the ages of 4 and 18 who are placed in their homes. TCF provides around-the-clock clinical supervisions, on-call therapy, and case management services.
Whatever your child’s continuing needs may be, Desert Hills provides a wide range of services that will be able to address any and all of those specific needs. We will do everything in our power to help your child overcome his or her concerns so that, upon leaving treatment, he or she can face the world with the strength and confidence needed to be productive and remain successful.