UpStreet, a new innovative teen mental health program in Pittsburgh run by Jewish Family and Community Services, received a grant for $100,000 from the Staunton Farm Foundation. Staunton Farm Foundation aims to support non-profit organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania that are improving the lives of people with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders. UpStreet’s goal is to transform the way 12-22-year-olds access mental health services, by allowing them to get therapy for themselves, by themselves.
Based at upstreetpgh.org, the platform offers the options to have online conversations with a therapist, schedule an appointment, connect with a peer mentor, or join a support group while reducing the stigma of seeking mental health support, avoiding escalation of symptoms to a crisis stage, and enhancing teens’ quality of life.
On the UpStreet website, a chatbot can connect teens to a live therapist for brief support conversations. Teens with longer-term needs can access individual therapy sessions. UpStreet is also working to launch their peer mentoring program, which pairs teens with an older teen or young adult that can help them navigate challenges with evidence-based resources and encouragement.
Increasing Access to Mental Health Services
UpStreet’s services are free of charge and do not require insurance. While parent involvement is encouraged when appropriate, UpStreet does not require parents’ consent or involvement for teens over 14 years of age to begin receiving services.
“The age group is severely underserved and missmatched by existing mental health and behavioral health services. The number two killer of teens is suicide; we cannot let young adults fall through the cracks.” said Erin Barr, UpStreet Clinical Coordinator.
Although UpStreet was originally envisioned as a walk-in center in Squirrel Hill, all services are currently offered virtually. Plans are still in place for a brick and mortar center when in-person services are deemed safe again.
In addition to the Staunton Farm Foundation grant, UpStreet has also received funding from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh, Allegheny Health Network, Verizon, The Shapira Foundation, and The Fine Foundation. The services offered are continuing to expand, with the input of the Youth Advisory Board, a group of teens and college students designated to help guide the programs and focus of UpStreet. UpStreet staff and the Youth Advisory Board will continue to adapt programs in response to emerging best practices and the evolving needs of young adults.
If you are interested in writing about UpStreet and would like to speak with Erin Barr, UpStreet Clinical Coordinator, or Stephanie Rodriguez, Teen and Adolescent Psychotherapist, please contact Allie Reefer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-229-3133.