Build Me Up: Reinventing Youth Mental Health Treatment with Cambia Hills
We have a mental health crisis in our country, and often it is the children that slip through the cracks. In Minnesota alone, over 100,000 children need treatment for serious emotional disturbances. Many children with complex mental illnesses will need weeks or months of round-the-clock care to get well, but the average stay in children’s psychiatric hospitals is 7-10 days, on average. The Hills Youth and Family Services, based in Duluth, Minnesota, is working to address this growing need across the state.
Their latest facility, Cambia Hills of East Bethel, is the first purpose-built psychiatric residential treatment facility for children in Minnesota. It combines specialized education services and residential treatment all under one roof. Its innovative partnership with the Northeast Metro 916 School District is providing flexible learning opportunities for Cambia Hills residents, ranging from ages 6-17.
In the latest episode of the Build Me Up podcast, The Hills Youth and Family Services CEO Jeff Bradt, along with District 916 Assistant Superintendent Daniel Naidicz and Tammy Bednar, Principal at Cambia Hills, discuss their partnership, this state-of-the-art facility, and the growing need for mental health treatment.
Designed by TKDA, the 62,000-square-foot, 60-bed facility was designed to make its patients feel comfortable and at home. What started as a box-shaped building in the design process evolved into a Y shape to give ample natural daylight into the residential suites. Situated on a 38-acre wetland and with a direct access outdoors, giving patients a connection to nature was highly important in the design process. Cambia Hills of East Bethel wasn’t meant to feel like a hospital, and there are no visible nursing stations in the care suites. Down the line, they will be adding programming like animal husbandry and gardening to help patients in the healing process. The campus also features staff offices, a gymnasium, commercial kitchen and cafeteria, and community gathering space. But a key feature to Cambia Hills of East Bethel is its focus on education.
Unique to Cambia Hills, its partnership with District 916 allows school to be integrated into the building. Rather than going off campus to attend class, the patients simply have to walk down the hall. The school is comprised of 10 classrooms, with flexible learning spaces for small-group or one-on-one instruction. It was designed to create a supportive and safe environment, free of auditory and visual distractions found in many typical school facilities. Students attend classes during regular hours, transitioning between each subject throughout the day as is typical at a traditional school. But each learning plan can be tailored to the individual’s needs, with the ability to provide more one-on-one instruction to those who need it.
Cambia Hills of East Bethel has a goal of treating as many children as possible, but also to help them grow from needing intensive, 24/7 support to returning to their own schools and a life that is as normal as possible. To learn more about the innovative partnership between Cambia Hills of East Bethel and District 916, tune into the latest episode of Build Me Up.