LRMHC to Expand Services for Youth with Substance Use Disorders

Lakes Region Mental Health Center will be participating in a new program, The Seven Challenges which is part of Creating Connections NH, a federally-funded project to develop and implement a system of care for youth (ages 12-25) with substance use disorders and those with a co-occurring mental health disorder and substance use disorder. Creating Connections NH is being implemented by the Department of Children’s Behavioral Health within the NH Department of Health and Human Services. The Seven Challenges program is specifically designed for counseling adolescents and young adults facing substance use challenges and provides training and supports to deliver developmentally appropriate, research-based screening and brief intervention to youth.

“The Seven Challenges® Program doesn’t force change, but rather motivates the young person to make a personal commitment to change” said Charlotte Hassett, Director of Child & Family Services at Lakes Region Mental Health Center. “The program helps youth examine the importance of their choices and make healthy decisions on their personal road to recovery. The Seven Challenges® Program has been proven effective in treating both substance use disorders along with other mental health and trauma issues. Therapists trained in the Seven Challenges® program facilitate discussion and help youth speak openly about their experiences. During these group discussions, counselors seamlessly integrate the challenges as part of the conversation. We are excited that five members of our Child & Family Services team will begin their training in April,” says Hassett. Seven Challenges is implemented as the counseling component of an outpatient program and can be delivered in a variety of settings with different levels of intensity to meet the needs of each person.

New Hampshire ranks in the top eight states with the highest rate of underage binge drinking (youths age 12- 20 years). Young adults in New Hampshire between the ages of 18 and 25 have some of the highest rates of alcohol and drug use when compared to young adults nationally. Early-onset or frequent substance use during adolescence increases the risk of developing mental health problems, long-term alcohol or drug dependence, educational underachievement, health problems, and social difficulties during late adolescence and early adulthood. (NSDUH 2018)

“Early intervention is critical for youth who are at risk for substance use. Our role is to promote healthy decision-making and help people identify problems they may be having with alcohol or other drug use early on, helping them with assessments and treatment services and connect them to prevention and recovery supports,” says Chelsea Lemke, Director of Substance Use Services at Lakes Region Mental Health Center.