Think ASPIRE might be right for your child? Find out about warning signs of mental illness and how the After-School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education® (ASPIRE) can help. 

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ASPIRE | El Camino Health



Q: Are there warning signs that can signal a mental health condition?

A: There are a few behaviors that can indicate someone is struggling with depression, anxiety or another mental health condition.

Behaviors that can signal a problem include:

  • Change in sleeping patterns or appetite.
  • Loss of self-esteem and expression of worthlessness or hopelessness.
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities and hobbies.
  • Isolation and abandonment of friends and social activities.
  • Unexpected and dramatic decline in academic performance.
  • Personality changes that are out of character, such as aggressiveness or excessive anger, or extreme moodiness or sadness.

Q: What types of therapies are used in the program?

A: ASPIRE provides structure and training in mental wellness skills, which help young people learn and implement healthy coping strategies. They participate in individual, group and family counseling, and take part in art therapy and other skills-building activities. The programs use a framework of dialectical behavioral therapy.

Q: What is dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)?

A: DBT can be used to treat a wide range of disorders, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders. Therapy includes skills training, individual and group counseling, coaching, and a consultation team of mental health professionals who work together to provide care. There are five sets of behavioral skills taught:

  • Mindfulness – The practice of being fully aware and present in the moment.
  • Distress tolerance – How to tolerate and manage emotional pain in difficult situations.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness – How to ask for what you want and say no to others while maintaining self-respect and healthy relationships with others.
  • Emotional regulation – How to be mindful of your emotions, increase positive emotions and reduce emotional vulnerability.
  • Walking the middle path – How to acknowledge and accept different points of view or opinions for a given situation — even if you don’t agree with them.

Q: What is WASC Accreditation?

A: Receiving accreditation from Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) means that teens who complete the ASPIRE High School Program are eligible to receive up to five WASC-approved semester credit hours to be applied toward their high school graduation. Each school district and school determine whether credits (including the number and type of credit granted) are accepted toward graduation.

Q: How long is the program?

A: Because we want participants to learn and apply specific skills, we ask them to make a time commitment for each of our programs:

  • Middle School Program – Three afternoons a week for 10 continuous weeks.
  • High School Program – Four afternoons a week for eight continuous weeks.
  • Quest High School Program – Three afternoons a week and weekly Saturday sessions for twelve continuous weeks.
  • Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Program – Four days a week for eight continuous weeks.

This commitment allows participants to understand and develop coping strategies in each area. Enrollment into the program is continuous, and participants may begin their program at any time.

Q: Does the Quest High School intensive outpatient program (IOP) require diagnosis of the co-occurring mental health condition prior to joining?

A: Yes, here's how you get that diagnosis or referral...? Or No the person is diagnosed as part of the program?

Do parents or guardians participate in ASPIRE?

For the middle and high school programs, parent or guardian participation is required due to the importance of the relationship between the young person and the adults in his or her life. As a parent or guardian, you’ll participate in family meetings with your child's therapist. You’ll also attend multi-family sessions in our middle school program and skills groups in our high school program — some include parents only, while other, smaller groups include both parents and youth.

The TAY Program doesn’t require a parent or guardian to participate, but we encourage young adults to invite family members or significant others to attend the multi-family sessions each week.

Will my insurance cover the program?

We'll work with your insurance company to assure that services can be covered. Your insurance plan may require a share of cost. Those that have no insurance may be eligible through the hospital's financial assistance program.

How do I know if ASPIRE can help?

If you suspect you or someone you know needs help, call us today to schedule a free, confidential assessment with one of our behavioral specialists. Call us at 650-962-5855.