Skyland Trail Opens J. Rex Fuqua Campus for Adolescent Mental Health Treatment

On October 10, Skyland Trail celebrated the grand opening of the J. Rex Fuqua Campus for adolescents. Skyland Trail leadership joined nearly 200 mental health professionals and guests for a ribbon cutting program followed by tours of the campus.

The J. Rex Fuqua Campus offers specialized residential psychiatric treatment for adolescents ages 14 to 17 struggling with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is a unique program in the Southeast and one of only a handful of similar programs nationwide.

The J. Rex Fuqua Campus and the adolescent treatment program are specially designed to meet the mental health needs and socialization styles of teens. The facility includes 26 private bedrooms with private bathrooms; group therapy rooms and offices; therapeutic spaces for fitness, meditation, art and music activities; a learning lab for academic activities; common areas for socialization; a dining room that opens to an outdoor dining patio; and a courtyard and outdoor sports court.

Skyland Trail, a nationally recognized nonprofit mental health treatment organization, has been part of the Atlanta community since 1989. Development and construction of the J. Rex Fuqua was made possible by generous community support through the Building Resilience, Changing Lives Campaign. Key contributors include The Realan Foundation, Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, The James M. Cox Foundation, The O. Wayne Rollins Foundation, The Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation, and The West Foundation.

The campus was dedicated in honor of Rex Fuqua to recognize his vision, leadership, and contributions to make the adolescent campus and program possible. Fuqua is a long-time board member of Skyland Trail and, along with Rand Glenn Hagen and Tom Johnson, was tri-chair of the Building Resilience, Changing Lives Campaign.

“Skyland Trail’s adolescent treatment program will fill an urgent need in our region for evidence-based, high-quality residential mental health treatment for teens,” says Rex Fuqua. “For many years, Skyland Trail has had a national reputation as a world-class mental health treatment organization. This new adolescent program will bring that same level of professional expertise and compassionate care to teens and their families, right when they need help the most.”

Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and 75 percent begin by age 24. In the U.S., 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 live with a mental health condition. Studies suggest that early diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders can improve long-term outcomes.

In a letter of congratulations addressed to Skyland Trail president and CEO Beth Finnerty, Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter writes, “I’m very pleased to know that adolescents living with mental illnesses will have access to these excellent specialized services right here in Atlanta. Skyland Trail has a strong reputation for providing adults with quality treatment, which will now be available to more teens and their families in Georgia.”

The Skyland Trail adolescent treatment program provides evidence-based psychiatric treatment to teens ages 14 to 17. After psychological assessments, adolescents are matched with a specialized treatment plan based on their diagnoses, symptoms, strengths and goals. Specialized treatment modalities focus on teens with mood disorders and teens with anxiety disorders or OCD.

A multidisciplinary treatment team includes psychiatrists, psychologists, masters level therapists, certified educators, nurse practitioners and registered nurses, and experts in experiential therapies like art, music, nature, and recreation. Certified educators work with adolescents throughout treatment to help them continue to make academic progress and learn skills to support future academic achievement.

Through group and individual therapy, teens learn healthy coping skills to navigate school and family and peer relationships. Family members participate in family therapy sessions and psychoeducation classes to help them make important changes to family dynamics to support long-term health.

Adolescent clients typically participate in the short-term residential treatment program for about six to eight weeks before returning home to their families. A day treatment and intensive outpatient program for adolescents allow clients and families to continue individual and family therapy activities with shorter schedules and less intense support.

The Skyland Trail adolescent treatment program is led by Dorothy Jordan, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN. The vice president for Skyland Trail adolescent clinical services is Les Cole, M.Div., LPC, CPCS, NBCC, and the adolescent psychiatrist and medical director of adolescent programs is Allison Nitsche, MD, MPH.

The J. Rex Fuqua Campus is the fifth Skyland Trail campus in Atlanta. The four previously existing campuses provide mental health residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services for adults ages 18 and older. Skyland Trail adult mental health treatment programs have been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for excellence and leadership in providing evidence-based residential mental health treatment services through an integrated care model. The grand opening of the J. Rex Fuqua Campus was one of several events in 2019 commemorating the 30th anniversary of Skyland Trail. “What has been our constant over 30 years is the belief that our clients can get better – that, with effective treatment and holistic care, they can live healthy, productive lives,” says Beth Finnerty, president and CEO of Skyland Trail. “The grand opening of the J. Rex Fuqua Campus is the next chapter in the Skyland Trail story, and I am so thankful for the ongoing support of the Atlanta philanthropic community for mental health treatment and for Skyland Trail.”