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Help is available for teens in crisis

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POSTED July 24, 2012 6:22 p.m.

For teens in crisis or having emotional struggles, they or their families may not know where or how to seek help. Affordable, and sometimes even free, teen services and counseling programs are available through various non-profit and governmental agencies.

The Center for Human Services (CHS), a non-profit, is one such organization that has facilities and family resource centers throughout Stanislaus County.

CHS Executive Director Cindy Duenas said that they have a few different counseling and teen crisis programs available. One program that CHS operates is called Hutton House, which is an emergency crisis shelter for teens who are 12 to 17 years old. Duenas said that it offers drop-in counseling services, as well as a temporary place to stay for teens with serious crisis issues. Hutton House deals with teens who are having conflict with their families, depression, or peer conflict. Some are runaways, she said, others are homeless, or are “throwaways” who have been kicked out of their homes.

“Our job there is to stabilize the situation,” Duenas said. “…It has been like a life raft for people in our community for years.”

The staff at Hutton House makes referrals and links the teens with other services or agencies. Hutton House is free to teens with those needs.

CHS also has family resource centers in Oakdale, Ceres, Patterson, and Newman where teens can drop in for counseling. Duenas said that the staffers work with the teens and their families and figure out the best course. CHS also collaborates with resource centers in Turlock, Riverbank, Hughson, and Modesto for similar services.

She added that they accept Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, private pay that is done on a sliding scale, and other options for counseling services. Duenas noted that they work with families on that.

She also provided information on some of the warning signs that a teen may be struggling. She said to pay attention to things like big mood swings, withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, and changes in otherwise normal behavior. She also noted that a teen may be having a more difficult time in school and may have dropping grades. Stressful life situations such as death, divorce, or family conflict can also be catalysts for trouble. Duenas added that other warning signs could be changes in peer groups or changes in the way a teen is dressing. Also, another red flag is that a teen is using drugs or alcohol.

Duenas reported that CHS also has an outpatient adolescent drug and alcohol treatment program at their main office in McHenry Village, Modesto. She said that it’s one of the very few outpatient facilities specifically for adolescents in the area. The adolescent drug and alcohol treatment program is low cost and financial assistance is available.

Trying to talk to the young person and keeping the lines of communication open and respectful are the first things a parent or guardian can do to help their teen, Duenas noted. If the problems persist or continue then the next step is to seek professional help.

“If a teen is resistant to help or refuses, a parent can come in and get helpful information on how to help the child, get ideas,” Duenas said.

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