A Bridge to Mental Health Care for Teens

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many teens struggling with mental health concerns had difficulty accessing the services they needed, due to a shortage of providers. In the past two years, the number of adolescents needing care has skyrocketed, while access issues persisted, turning an already-challenging situation into a national public health crisis. While Philadelphia is no stranger to these issues, local teens now have more options for quickly receiving care, thanks to the Connection Clinic.

See more in Penn Medicine System News

The Connection Clinic is a new program from the Hall-Mercer Community Mental Health Center at Pennsylvania Hospital. It serves as a “bridge” to support teens from their initial request for services, until their first appointment with a therapist within two weeks. The program uses interns to assess adolescent patients and orient them to therapy. Since opening in September 2021, the Connection Clinic has already served more than 100 patients.

It also recently received a CAREs grant from Penn Medicine to assemble gift bags for new patients with items such as fidget toys, mindfulness coloring books, journals, and more, that can help them discover which coping mechanisms work best for them. “Through the Connection Clinic,” says Dominique Bibbs, MHS, clinical coordinator for Child Services at Hall-Mercer, “we can start supporting our adolescent patients right away and even help them manage their mental health in between appointments.”

Penn Medicine CAREs grants are awarded quarterly to a variety of community-outreach programs spearheaded or supported by Penn Medicine faculty, staff, students, and trainees. Over the past decade, the initiative has granted over $750,000 to more than 750 projects in Penn Medicine’s service area.

Image of an array of the coping-mechanism products included in the Connection Clinic bags