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Sharp Health News

Expanding mental health care for younger patients

March 15, 2018

Expanding mental health care for younger patients

Patients can express themselves artistically through new chalkboard features installed in every room.

Almost half of American youth will have a diagnosable mental illness before the age of 18. The most common diagnoses will be anxiety, depression and disruptive behavior disorders.

To help with the growing need for quality mental health resources for children, Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, with the help of Price Philanthropies and other generous supporters, has opened its expanded child and adolescent unit. The unit provides inpatient care for children ages 5 to 17 who are experiencing significant behavioral or emotional challenges such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and self-harm.

The renovation adds one patient bed to the unit, bringing the total capacity to 22 patients. This accounts for more than a third of inpatient beds available in San Diego for youth with mental health needs.

“Just one additional bed on our unit means we are able to provide care to 80 more families each year,” says Dr. Alisha Carpenter, manager of child and adolescent services at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital.

Other enhancements to the unit include an improved healing environment for patients, in which soothing colors and images of nature create a relaxing, home-like atmosphere.

“It can be a scary time for patients and families, so we want them to feel a sense of warmth and brightness, along with feeling welcomed when they first walk onto the unit,” says Dr. Carpenter.

For increased healing, patient rooms now have state-of-the-art lighting that mimics natural light, which has been shown to help decrease symptoms of depression. Patients can also express themselves artistically through new chalkboard features installed in every room.

In addition, outdoor patient areas have been upgraded to allow more fresh air to circulate, and new, comfortable seating encourages more group work to be held outdoors. Group spaces indoors include rocking chairs and sensory activities to promote relaxation and regulate emotions.

“The enhancements are our way of making strides to reduce mental health stigmas,” says Dr. Carpenter. “We want every patient and parent to know that we are invested in them and feel like their challenges are valid.”

For more information about child and adolescent services at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, call 858-836-8555.

For the news media: To talk with Dr. Alisha Carpenter about child and adolescent mental health services for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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