Midwest Center for Youth and Families promotes mental health in the Region and beyond

Midwest Center for Youth and Families promotes mental health in the Region and beyond

For the past 27 years, Midwest Center for Youth and Families has helped young people living with complex mental health issues across the country achieve a better quality of life at its main location in Kouts and its extension in Valparaiso. The Kouts facility offers its services to females aged 10-18 and males aged 12-18, while its Valparaiso  unit caters to females aged 12-18. Midwest Center accepts patients who continue to struggle with issues like suicidal tendencies, anxiety, and depression even after they have received treatment at a hospital or from a mental health professional. 

Midwest Center Director of Business Development Kevin Zwiers hopes that the great work that Midwest Center does has a positive societal impact.

“Mental health is still stigmatized in today’s society, and our goal is to reduce that stigma,” Zwiers said. “The brain is just like any other organ in the body, and we should regard it as such. In my experience, people are usually comfortable admitting that they have a medical condition like high blood pressure. However, very few individuals will admit that they have a mental health issue like depression or suicidal ideation. We at Midwest Center ultimately want to help people gain a more positive mindset when it comes to discussing and treating mental health issues.”

Midwest Center’s two locations offer a wide variety of features, including playgrounds, a fully accredited school, and several types of recreational, individual, family and pet therapy. The staff also takes the residents on weekly visits to Anam Cara Counseling in La Porte for equine therapy. 

Residents are now able to participate in Midwest Center’s newly-established garden club as well. They can tend to the garden's raised vegetable plant beds and paint wooden spoons to make plant labels. Samantha Webster, executive assistant at Midwest Center, enjoys seeing how significantly the residents’ lives are improved by their time at Midwest Center.

“We teach kids who have hit their lowest point how to build a life worth living,” Webster said. “We’ve had kids who left our facility 10 years ago return with children of their own and tell us, ‘I was heading down the wrong path, but you all saved my life. I wanted to tell you that I have a job and I’m thriving now.’ It's also really cool to run into a former resident when you’re out and about. You might see them working in a local McDonald's, and it’s always really great to see that they're doing well. It’s really exciting to witness the kids’ success stories.”

Midwest Center specializes in the incorporation of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) into the treatment it provides for residents. DBT features the four modules of emotional regulation, mindfulness, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. Midwest Center Director of Risk and Performance Improvement Rhiannon Robertson considers the application of DBT to be one of the center’s most unique aspects.

“We are one of the few facilities in the nation to take a full-immersion approach to DBT,” Robertson said. “We incorporate DBT into everything the kids do. According to our exit surveys, about 97% of our kids feel that they have experienced a significant improvement in a certain aspect of their life by the time they leave here. Whether it’s a large or small improvement in a particular area, the majority of kids who leave here have made some progress. They're able to go back home and successfully participate in their community.”

Last year, Midwest Center received the prestigious Service Excellence Award from its parent company. Midwest Center was selected from among 60+ behavioral health sister facilities to apply for this competitive award. In the brief video and questionnaire that the Midwest Center staff submitted for the contest, they explained how they seek to achieve service excellence by ensuring that the needs of residents and their families – which vary from case to case – are satisfactorily met. Zwiers views the commitment of the Midwest Center’s staff to be a valuable asset. 

“Our staff is one of the biggest strengths we have here at Midwest Center,” Zwiers said. “As we go about our work, we stay focused on achieving service excellence. It takes a special kind of person to work with our patient population. We experience many trials and tribulations on a daily basis. When many of these kids are brought to us, they come to us suffering from mental illness. Our hope is that, when they are discharged from our program, they will give us a hug and say, ‘Thank you, you saved my life.’ That’s our goal, and it's all rooted in service excellence.”

The staff members at Midwest Center are looking forward to finding more ways to engage with their community and spread the word about the vitally important work they do every day.

For more information about the services that Midwest Center for Youth and Families offers, please visit midwest-center.com.