A Local Lifeline for Teens

The adolescent years can be a time of great struggle for teens and the adults who parent them. Recent reports have shown a dramatic increase in the number of suicides among this population, with almost a 60% increase in the past decade. There are likely multiple factors for this uptick, including the seclusion of the pandemic and the transition back to in-person learning. The high use of social media among this age group puts pressure on the young, who feel the need to measure up to the standards set by peers. Add systemic racism and bullying to the mix, and is it any wonder that our teens are struggling with mental health issues? And yet, this group is the most underserved in addressing mental health challenges.

Fortunately, there is a place called The SPOT (Supporting Positive Opportunities with Teens) that is sponsored by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Their mission is “to increase access to health care for youth who have been disproportionately impacted by HIV, poverty, trauma, and discrimination. In order to protect and promote the physical and mental health of those we serve, we partner with youth to create a safe, welcoming space for them to address their goals and achieve positive outcomes.” The Spot also partners with other agencies in town to assist adolescents in getting their needs met.

The Spot offers a variety of services, including medical, sexual, and mental health care, as well as access to showering, laundering, computers, and food. The Spot is also the place for youth entering foster care for the first time between the ages of 13 and 17 to receive their required 30-day comprehensive examination. Once enrolled in the COACH program, youth have continuous access to medical, psychiatric, and dental care, as well as case management until the age of 25. For more information, email coach@wustl.edu.

The Spot is located at 4169 Laclede Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63108. They encourage anyone interested in receiving services or with questions to call them at 314-535-7275. To see their full array of services, visit their website for more information.