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Orange County To Get Two New Mental Health Centers For Youth

The top image is of the exterior of the School of Social Ecology building at UC Irvine that will house one of the new youth mental health centers. The building is beige with a tree and green bushes in front.  The bottom image is a mural that reads"You Are Loved." The words are painted with vibrant colors that intertwine: Blue, red, green, purple and more shades. The mural is painted in the hallway across from where the UCI  mental health center will be located.
Above, the School of Social Ecology building at UCI that will house one of the new youth mental health centers. Below, the "You Are Loved” mural in the hallway across from where the UCI center will be located.
(Courtesy UCI )
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Orange County is slated to get two new mental health centers for youth in partnership with UC Irvine.

They’ll focus on the needs of those ages 12-25, as experts say those are the years when initial mental health concerns often arise.

One of the no-appointment-required centers will be on the UCI campus. The second will be in south Orange County, but the exact location has not been finalized.

Organizers say the drop-in centers will offer on-site services such as personalized therapy. But they will go beyond that, partly out of necessity, said Program Director Stephen Schueller.

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“We’re never going to have enough professionals, and so the one-to-one model is not going to work,” said Schueller, an associate professor in UCI's Department of Psychological Science.

Schueller believes group therapy is a good alternative. “I’ve run a lot of therapy groups in the past and they’re very powerful,” he said, adding that the group dynamic can help people see things in other people that it may be hard to see in themselves.

The centers will provide opportunities for training to UCI psychology students, while providing low- or no-cost services to clients, Schueller said.

The new locations will be based on a youth-centered model developed at Stanford.

The O.C. centers should be open by the end of 2022, with two L.A. County sites to follow. Organizers said the O.C. locations are funded in part by a $2 million grant from the state.

The new resources come amid growing concern about youth mental health. Last month, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory warning of a mental health crisis among the nation’s youth — a crisis he said has been made worse by the pandemic.

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