‘We’re here to help our kids’: Life Launch Centers opens new facility to treat youth with mental illness

ST. GEORGE — Life Launch Centers held a ribbon-cutting event Tuesday morning to celebrate the grand reopening of their new intensive outpatient facility.

Joe Newman, director of business development for Life Launch Centers, told St. George News this new building, located at 230 N. 1680 East, Building J in Ventana Professional Park, offers more accessibility for their group room and also places them in a central area for health and wellness services in St. George.

Though there are other places that offer mental health services, Newman said they “offer a unique level of care” for youth aged 11-26 who are dealing with depression, anxiety, trauma or suicide.

He said many people are looking for a little bit more than is offered a traditional outpatient, once-a-week service. As an intensive outpatient treatment center, clients attend three group therapy sessions per week along with individual therapy sessions.

“Group is amazing, where these youth can get together, and they realize they’re not alone in their struggles, and they’re not broken for having anxiety or depression, and they hear their peers express what they’re feeling like inside, and it just melts barriers,” he said. “They have a lot of healing really fast.”

Joe Newman talks about mental health treatment during the Life Launch Centers’ ribbon-cutting event for new intensive outpatient treatment facility, St. George, Utah, Dec. 1, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

He said they see a lot of high school and college students come in who are overwhelmed with the anxiety of needing to launch into adulthood. Through group and individual sessions, they learn coping skills to help them navigate through these transitions.

Newman said when the pandemic first hit, they went to telehealth, but it wasn’t very long until they realized how powerful the in-person group setting is for the healing process. As soon as the health department cleared them to resume in-person meetings, they opened their doors.

“The clients wanted to get back together as fast as possible,” he said, adding that they go through all of the necessary precautions, such as wearing masks, taking temperatures and socially distancing.

Shortly preceding the ribbon-cutting, St. George Mayor Jon Pike spoke about mental health and the need for more resources. He related the societal impacts of the pandemic to an accident his 16-year-old daughter had Monday when she fell out of a tree and pulled some ligaments while trying to find a way to have fun with her friends.

“We all fell out of a really tall tree in the middle of March,” he said. “I don’t know about you, but it’s been hard. It’s been hard on more than our ligaments. It’s been hard with our relationships. It’s been hard on our mental health.

Pike said as of right now, St. George has “weathered it pretty well” in terms of suicides, but other mental health issues are rising.

“The anxiety, the depression, all those aspects of mental health are skyrocketing in terms of needs and reaching out to get help,” he said. “We are very social creatures. We need each other. We still need to find ways to stay safe and stay open.”

Not just open as far as doors, but open as a society, he said.

Brandi Honey at the Life Launch Centers’ ribbon-cutting event for the new intensive outpatient treatment facility, St. George, Utah, Dec. 1, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

He also talked about the local need for this kind of therapy and expressed his gratitude for the presence of Life Launch Centers in the community.

“Frankly we need much more of this in southwest Utah,” he said. “It’s really hard to get the mental health services that we need.”

Newman said this is exactly why they originally started their service and are proud of it being a St. George original company that started in Southern Utah. Even though they provide services to other areas, such as West Jordan, the reason they started the program was because of the need they saw locally.

“We feel very fortunate to be a Southern Utah original company. We started here in St. George because some of the founders had situations with their own kids and couldn’t find the help, the care that they needed to help them through their difficult emotional trauma.”

Newman said they are absolutely dedicated to serving this community and helping the youth right here “in our own schools, our own backyards and our own neighborhoods.”

“It does take a community to come together to help this rising generation to succeed, and that’s what we’re all about,” he said.

Ben Harris, a counselor at Life Launch who has spent his career working in several different inpatient and outpatient programs, said he realized that he spent a long time serving kids from other places.

“But never in our community,” he said. “No more. We’re working with our community. We’re here to help this community. We’re here to help our kids. We’re here to help our neighbors, our friends, our family.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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