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El Camino Hospital Teen Mental Health Program Receives Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Accreditation

Mountain View and Los Gatos, CA – May 20, 2015 - El Camino Hospital today announced that its After School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education (ASPIRE) Program for teens received the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Accreditation.

The ASPIRE program received a six-year accreditation, the highest level of accreditation, and teens who complete the program are eligible to receive up to five WASC-approved semester credit hours to be applied toward their high school graduation. Acceptance of credits toward graduation, as well as the number and type of credits granted, are determined by each individual school district and school.

ASPIRE was started in 2010 after a number of teen suicides occurred in the local community. The intensive outpatient therapy program is designed for young people ages 13-17 with significant anxiety or depression and who are at risk of harming themselves. Over the course of eight weeks, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is used for teens to learn the skills needed to help them succeed in life: emotional regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and mindfulness. The ASPIRE program served 112 adolescents in 2014 and has served 409 adolescents since 2011, with the demand for services growing annually.

"Accreditation from WASC is affirmation of the strength of our ASPIRE program, which is designed to meet the desperate need in our community for services to address depression and anxiety in teens," said Tomi Ryba, president and CEO of El Camino Hospital. "We are honored by this recognition of our commitment to providing high quality mental health treatment and services and we are grateful to our partners including area schools, community leaders, youth organizations, healthcare practitioners, school counselors and insurance companies for their support in this effort."

Michael Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Mental Health for El Camino Hospital pointed out that WASC accreditation requires a rigorous research-based review process over the course of 12 months. "It is a testament to the extraordinary work done by the teens who dedicate themselves to developing the coping skills necessary to lead healthy lives and the parents who commit to learning supportive communication skills," he said.

WASC is one of six regional associations that accredit public and private schools, colleges and universities in the United States. It is responsible for evaluating the quality and effectiveness of higher-education institutions in California, Hawaii, Guam and the Pacific Basin. The ASPIRE program is fully accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools as Colleges as a Supplementary Education Program.

"The ASPIRE program addresses the unique pressures and stress inherent for teens living in Santa Clara County. The program is experiential and educational, with a focus on teaching valuable skills, putting the skills into practice and guiding teens through difficult situations. We commend El Camino Hospital for its commitment to improving the mental health of young adults throughout our community and are pleased to offer five credits to students completing the ASPIRE program," said Barry Groves, Ed.D., Superintendent of Mountain View Los Altos High School District.