Published May 8, 2023
BY NICOLE MIRSKI
The Ohana Center for Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health, an organization that offers youth mental and behavioral health services, is opening a new hub, the Ohana Campus in Ryan Ranch, dedicated to treating and curing their patients’ needs in a relaxed setting.
The project was started by Montage Health, a non-profit health system in Monterey County, after receiving a generous donation from local philanthropist Bertie Bialek Elliott, who named the project “Ohana” after the Hawaiian word for family. The team at Ohana, which has grown to nearly 70 employees, also provides different types of psychiatric help without making families find their own clinicians, including child psychiatrists, therapists, medical assistants and more.
Currently, employees have been working from a temporary setting while the Ohana Campus is being built. The team hopes the new location will help them treat, cure and even prevent climbing rates of psychological disorders.
“The good news is what goes up can also come down,” says Dr. Susan Swick, the executive director of Ohana, in reference to rising rates of mental health disorders. “If it can change to become more common, we know we can change it to make it less common.”
To begin working towards their goal of lowering rates of psychological disorders among youth, the Ohana team designed the Ohana Campus in partnership with NBBJ, a design firm that pursues architecture that supports health, the community and a zero-carbon future, with the patients and their families in mind.
Alongside psychiatric help from employees themselves, the building also lends itself to benefit the patients. The building has a serpentine-like structure to it with the building forming what seems like a figure-eight with a separate building in the middle. It is made out of cross-laminated timber, which lowers the carbon footprint and provides a relaxed atmosphere. The building’s facilities focus on creating a safe environment for both the patients and staff by incorporating outdoor space and communal areas, while also designating rooms where patients can receive one-on-one counseling. A gym, music room, cafe, garden spaces and 16 residential rooms are also available for both patients and their families.
“Exposure to nature can help lower cortisol levels, a measure of stress,” says Monica Sciuto, public information officer for Montage Health. “With inspiring views from every room, abundant natural light, and open spaces with high ceilings, the Ohana campus will offer young people and families hope, curiosity and possibility—the opposite of institutional.”
The campus will have a crisis stabilization unit with round-the-clock support for patients who need it, including a space for a parent or guardian to stay. The facility will also host residential treatment programs in which patients stay on site, receiving counseling for several weeks.
According to Swick, the integration of family time with in-patients is important for the treatment of adolescents. At Ohana Campus, families will be permitted and even encouraged to spend days on site to interact and learn more about the center.
The Ohana team hopes to move into the new center by late August after construction started in November 2020.