Local behavioral health services available for teens struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Local behavioral health resources are responding to teens’ call to action amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rio Vista Behavioral Health Hospital (RVBHH) in Northwest El Paso is offering services for adolescents struggling with mental health as a result of the isolation, health scares, economic crises and so much more.

Donna Magoncia, director of Clinical and Outpatient Services at RVBHH, told KTSM 9 News that available services include in-patient, outpatient, a partial hospitalization program and an intensive outpatient program. 

“There’ve actually been a lot of teens come in with suicidal ideations — some even with plans,” says Magoncia. 

The isolation coupled with withdrawals from formative social relationships with peers are causing teens to experience changes in behavior — numbness, irritability, hopelessness, anxiousness — that they may be unable to articulate. 

Many teens describe it as feeling “off.”

Magoncia says that adolescents develop their identities by interacting with each other. The transition to remote learning has eliminated identity-shaping social exercises like interacting with friends and learning social cues and boundaries; exploring different genres of art, music and other forms of culture; and the rites of passage achieved during adolescence. 

“We’ve started to notice that being at home can start to feel prison-like,” adds Magoncia, which aligns with a report from the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI) that says for some teens, a lockdown can be insufferable.

Some techniques to address feelings of anxiousness throughout the day include:

  • Taking deep breaths or practicing meditation to steady your heart rate 
  • Going outside for fresh air
  • Taking a five-minute break to stretch
  • Run cold water or a cold compress on the wrists 

RVBHH has designed its programming with the upended lifestyles of many families in mind. 

“We actually allow the teens to bring their computers in so they can have time to do their schoolwork here,” says Magoncia. “I think for a lot of parents — especially who have dual jobs — or have a hard time monitoring their teens, they have enough people here, they have services that can actually help.”

Additional services include free tele-assessments to those who feel thoughts of anxiety, depression and other mental health factors.  

“We also have outpatient programs for adolescents that include free transportation, lunch provided, one hour dedicated to homework and group therapy. We have the ability to create evening classes, also for those who can’t attend during the day,” says Daniel Reyes, director of Business Development. 

RVBHH accepts most major insurances and also offers personal payment plans. For more information, click here.

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