Mercer Health now offering pediatric COPE program

Jennifer Bills, a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner practicing at Mercer Health, is now a licensed COPE provider offering the Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment (COPE) program at Mercer Health Center for Healthy Weight & Wellness located at the West Campus in Coldwater.

One in five adolescents ages 13-18 have or will have a serious mental health condition. The average delay between onset of symptoms and intervention is 8 to 10 years.

“Seeking treatment and being open with health care providers about your feelings and symptoms is crucial for your overall health,” Bills said. “Suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth ages 10 to 24 and 90% of those had an underlying mental illness.”

COPE is an evidence-based Cognitive Behavioral Skills Building program for children and teens ages 7 to 18 with mild to moderate depression, anxiety or mood disorders unspecified. While medications are helpful if symptoms are the result of a chemical change, learning how to effectively cope and manage thoughts is equally important and that is the goal of the COPE program.

The manual-based COPE program includes seven 25 to 30 minute sessions delivered over a 2 to 4 month period. Patients will learn coping skills, including positive self-talk, mental imagery, exercise, relaxation breathing, healthy food choices and effective communication.  A specific workbook is geared for adolescents who suffer from headaches with additional coping strategies.

According to Bills, “Most importantly as a result of this program, patients and families are taught that there is hope to heal and overcome their challenges. In studies, many caregivers reported positive outcomes for themselves as well.”

Appointments can be scheduled by contacting Mercer Health Center for Healthy Weight & Wellness directly at 419-678-8446. A referral is not required to schedule an appointment.