May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and a Bay Area college student is using her personal experience with depression and anxiety to advocate for other teens and young adults struggling with mental health issues. She has created a podcast and one of her latest episodes focuses on the Ohana Center in Monterey.
The more we talk about mental health issues, the more they become normalized. I felt like I had to share my story, said Sadie Sutton, the creator of her podcast She Persisted. This is exactly what Sadie is doing. That line, She Persisted, is now the title of her podcast about her, where she talks about the challenges of mental health.
I have struggled a lot with anxiety and depression and everything that goes with it. We tried everything we could locally, whether it was individual therapy, family therapy, intensive outpatient admissions, Sutton said. She says nothing worked. She was hospitalized until she was 14 years old, in a program outside Boston, 3East at McLean Hospital, where she spent several weeks doing intensive dialectical behavior therapy. She says the change in her mental health has been huge. I was truly so inspired by the fact that such a big change had occurred and that I was so wrong in the idea of not being able to recover, that I wanted to share it with other teenagers. Much of my struggle could have been prevented. So I wanted to create the resource that I wish I had when I was struggling, and also a resource for parents whose teens are struggling. But I don’t know what’s going on in their head, I don’t know what that fight is like, she said.
Sadie is now a 20-year-old college student, pursuing a BA in Clinical Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She has focused on helping others struggling with mental illness, which is what inspired her podcast about her. She really brought that sense of purpose that if I can help a person who is in the position I was in, if I can stop a person from struggling as much as I did, it’s worth it, she said.
Four years later, she’s done nearly 150 episodes, covering every aspect of mental health: anxiety, depression, OCD, relationships, coping skills, etc., with a whole host of experts. One of the experts interviewed, Dr. Justin Mohatt, medical director for innovation at the Ohana Center in Monterey. His episode with Sadie is about teen treatment programs. We were seeing rising rates of anxiety, depression, and teen suicide well before the pandemic. And unfortunately, the pandemic has been like fuel to the fire. And so things have gotten a lot worse since then. So there’s a huge need in our community and in communities across the country for it, said Dr. Mohatt.
The Ohana Center is the first of its kind in Monterey County and in the entire state. The center offers individual and group outpatient therapy for children and their families. It also provides a day hospital program. When Ohana’s new building at Ryan Ranch is finished this fall, it will also offer a residential treatment component: 16 beds, for teens to stay weeks at the facility, for a higher level of care.
We are developing a program that we hope will provide strong, evidence-based treatment and assessment, and also provide many prevention programs. Our goal is not only to treat the existing mental health problems of youth in Monterey County but to reduce the incidence of mental illness, said Dr. Mohatt. To do so, the center is taking a new approach, partnering with community organizations and schools, providing preventive physicians to all Monterey Peninsula Unified Middle Schools, who teach mental fitness skills and resilience to Monterey County children. Changing the stigma surrounding mental health treatment by talking about it.
A similar mission for Sadie. We need to talk about this. We need to put words into this experience, because being able to articulate what you’re going through, being able to ask for help when you need it, being able to know what resources will work for what you’re struggling with, is a game changer. No matter what you’re going through, no matter how challenging the mental health struggles you’re currently entrenched with, someone else has been there too. We all have emotions, we all have difficult days, and people can relate and help support you, Sutton said.
If you’d like to check out Sadie’s podcast or have a teenager who may be struggling and in need of services with the Ohana Center, you can find more information here: https://www.shepersistedpodcast.com/ or https:// www.montagehealth.org/care-treatment/mental-behavioral/ohana/
GET HELP | If you’re looking for support for yourself or someone in your life struggling with their mental health, KSBW 8 has compiled a list of resources that can help.
Connection: Directory of local youth mental health resources
- National crisis text line: 741-741
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988