Ask the Expert: Newport Healthcare
Topic: Teen Mental Health
Nancy Webster-Smith oversees Newport Healthcare’s industry-leading mental health treatment programs in Minnesota, providing evidence-based care for teens and young adults struggling with trauma, anxiety. depression, and co-occurring issues like substance abuse and behavioral addictions. Nancy is passionate about supporting adolescents and emerging adults in building resilience and finding their path forward with a series of purpose and meaning. She has more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare field, including leadership roles with CentraCare Health. Anoka Regional Treatment Center, and Catholic Charities in St. Cloud.
Q: WHY ARE SO MANY TEEN AND YOUNG ADULTS STRUGGLING WITH THEIR MENTAL HEALTH RIGHT NOW?
A: There are a variety of factors contributing to the youth mental health crisis in Minnesota and throughout the country. This generation is inheriting tremendous social and environmental problems, so there’s a sense of hopelessness. They’re coming of age during a time of great economic and political uncertainty, which creates anxiety and fear. Add to that the negative effects of social media, which are making young people lonelier rather than more connected. All of this was happening before 2020, but the pandemic has exponentially magnified the impact.
Q: HOW DOES NEWPORTS PHILOSOPHY OF CARE ADDRESS THESE ISSUES?
A: We support teens and young adults to build resilience and healthy coping skills so they can navigate painful emotions and external stressors. Our model of care is built on the foundation of authentic connection as the antidote to trauma and isolation. We utilize clinical and experiential modalities, including art and Adventure Therapy, to help young people connect with themselves, with peers and mentors, with family, and with the beautiful natural environment surrounding our Minnesota campuses.
Q: WHAT ARE THE SIGNS INDICATING THAT A TEEN OR YOUNG ADULT NEEDS TREATMENT?
A: There are various warning signs to look for, but symptoms can also look different for each individual. We recommend that parents and caregivers do regular “mental health temperature checks”- have open conversations with your child and observe their behavior. Are they having trouble sleeping? Are they no longer interested in activities they used to enjoy? Are they withdrawing from family? If you have any concerns, trust your gut and reach out to your doctor, a local therapist, or a treatment center like Newport for a full mental health assessment.