Skyland Trail Receives Significant Philanthropic Support to Develop Mental Health Treatment Program and Campus for Adolescents

ATLANTA – Skyland Trail plans to open a mental health treatment program for adolescents ages 14 to 17 with mood and anxiety disorders in 2019. The $20 million Building Resilience, Changing Lives campaign – co-chaired by Rex Fuqua, Rand Glenn Hagen, and Tom Johnson – will enable Skyland Trail to build a new residential facility and treatment program to address the unique psychiatric, social, educational, and physical needs of teens and their families.

The campaign has received significant leadership support from the Atlanta philanthropic community to date, including a $4 million gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, a $3 million gift from the Realan Foundation, a $2.5 million gift from The O. Wayne Rollins Foundation, a $2 million gift from Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation, and $2 million and $1 million gifts from anonymous donors, as well as numerous gifts from others in the community.

The adolescent treatment program will fill an urgent need in Atlanta and the Southeast for evidence-based, high-quality mental health treatment for teens. The campus will be located in Chamblee near I-85 at Dresden and Chamblee Tucker Road, approximately five miles from the Skyland Trail main campus. An existing 30,000-square-foot, two-story office building will be renovated to meet the specialized treatment and education needs of adolescents including: individual and group therapy rooms, art and music therapy rooms, a media center and dedicated space for patients to complete their school work, a kitchen and dining area, and offices for clinical and administrative staff.

A two-story, 26-bed residential hall will be constructed adjacent to the treatment center. It will include private patient rooms as well as a common living area, family room, kitchen, and nurses’ station. Both facilities will be surrounded by interactive outdoor spaces and gardens.

Building of the new adolescent campus will begin when all funds have been raised. The estimated grand opening of the adolescent program is summer 2019. A portion of the funds raised through the campaign will support a financial aid program to help families access treatment.

“The need for a residential adolescent mental health treatment program in Atlanta was clear,” says Beth Finnerty, Skyland Trail president and CEO.  “The early and enthusiastic response from the philanthropic community illustrates that the mental health of our young people is an important issue of concern for Atlanta families, schools, and employers. A changing economy and increasingly technology-driven society is creating new pressures and challenges for our teens, especially those struggling with a diagnosis of bipolar illness, depression, or an anxiety disorder. After nearly 30 years of helping adults recover from mental illness, we are excited to build on the success of our treatment model to help adolescents and their families.”

A key focus of clinical programming will be helping teens learn healthy coping skills to manage stress and navigate school as well as peer and family relationships. After comprehensive diagnostic assessments, adolescent patients will be matched with a specialized treatment plan based on their diagnoses, symptoms, strengths, and goals. On-staff tutors will partner with schools to help patients stay current with their courses, while complementary therapies including art, music, and recreational therapy will help teens find new tools for staying healthy. Parents will participate in family therapy sessions and psychoeducation classes to help them make important changes in family dynamics to support long-term recovery.

Untreated mental illness can delay or prevent cognitive and social development, and mental illness is strongly correlated with poor school performance, trouble with the juvenile justice system, risky sexual behaviors, and substance abuse. Early intervention and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders can lead to better long-term outcomes. Currently, few residential treatment programs for adolescents with mood and anxiety disorders exist in the Southeast.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 20 percent of adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show suicides among 15- to 19-year old girls have reached a 40-year high, doubling between 2007 and 2015. In Georgia, suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15- to 17-year-olds, behind motor vehicle accidents.