UpStreet Celebrates Opening of Teen Drop-In Center

Karen Feinstein, John Katz, Jordan Golin, and Deborah Murdoch at the UpStreet grand opening. (Photo courtesy of JFCS)

On September 20, the grand opening of the physical location of UpStreet was held, opening the doors to the teen mental wellness program which offers drop-in consultation with therapists, scheduled therapy appointments, text-based peer support, and support groups for teens.

UpStreet Pittsburgh, a teen mental health service offering free counseling to anyone ages 12-22, was seeded after JHF's 2018 study tour to an Australian headspace centre and was implemented by the Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS). (Learn more about the mental health approach in Australia through this interview: Mental Health in Australia) JHF also provided initial funding and consultation for the launch of the program. UpStreet initially launched in 2020 as an online service for mental health supports, the physical space will provide an extension of its teen mental health service delivery in-person at 5844 Forward Avenue.

UpStreet's new brick-and-mortar presence enables teens and young adults to receive in-person support in a youth-centered environment with no barriers to entry. Together, these programs provide comprehensive support for youth and help them move toward promising futures.

"On our 2018 JHF study tour we visited one of Australia's headspace sites. Australia now has 154 of these drop-in centers to address the behavioral health needs of youth, teens, and young adults," said Karen Wolk Feinstein. They provide everything from peer mentorships to informal counseling to early psychosis treatment. The model has been so successful that Australia plans to double the number. We knew that we wanted to bring the model back to the US," Dr. Feinstein said. "We spoke with JFCS and Friendship Circle and now we have two new teen drop-in centers in Squirrel Hill. It was amazing to attend this opening because UpStreet so closely mirrors headspace. It is my hope that we will have, at some point, centers like UpStreet throughout Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania. Let's decentralize 'triage' and bring it to the neighborhood."

Attendees tour the spaces available to teens at UpStreet. (Photo courtesy of JFCS)

The UpStreet facility houses all the programs of the new JFCS Youth Services department, which was established earlier this year. These programs include UpStreet; various barrier reduction services; 412 Futures, a career exploration program for high school students; Bridge Builders, an afterschool program for refugee and immigrant youth; and Learn and Earn, a summer employment program.

"I am beyond thrilled that the ideas we discussed back in 2018 for an innovative youth mental health service and space have finally come to fruition," said Dr. Jordan Golin, President & CEO of Jewish Family & Community Services. "We are so grateful to the Jewish Healthcare Foundation for their ongoing attention to the mental health needs of young people in our community and for all of the funders and JFCS staff who helped make this vision a reality with the opening of our new JFCS Youth Services space."

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