Mental health services expanding for children (and parents) in Utah

May 23, 2022, 2:05 PM
Primary Children's Hospital (Photo credit:
(Photo credit:

SALT LAKE CITY — Additional mental health services for children are coming to more western locations in Utah.

The state of Utah and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital have teamed up to bring an in-person team to urban and rural counties in Utah’s western region, including Wasatch, Utah, and Juab counties.

Related: May 7 declared as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Utah

Intermountain said that Wayne, Piute, Severe, Millard and Sanpete counties also will receive Stabilization Mobile Response services via telehealth.

The benefits of added in-person and telehealth mental health programs

The larger Stabilization Mobile Response program is needed, officials told KSL NewsRadio, because more kids need the services.

“Intermountain has seen a 300 percent increase in behavioral health and psychiatric crises [in children] in the last decade,” said Dr. Lisa Giles, Medical Director of Behavioral Health Services at Primary Children’s Hospital.  She said the Stabilization Mobile Response (SMR) program has been in Utah since 2017.

Related: Utah mental health centers ready for switch to new 988 number

“This is one program that I think does a really fantastic job of addressing this large issue of ‘How do we help kids in crisis?’ When we can meet kids where they are, in a home setting, and keep kids out of the emergency room, it’s often a much more conducive environment to help stabilize a crisis.”

She said the emergency room is the default when a child has a mental health crisis. But that the SMR program has changed that. “As the state has collected data on the effectiveness of this program,” Dr. Giles said,  “at least 30 percent of families served have said this program has kept them from taking their child to the emergency room.”

It’s helped in another area, too. “Families often call law enforcement when a child is in crisis,” Giles said, “and 20% of families have said this program has kept them from having to call law enforcement.”

What is Stabilization Mobile Response?

Stabilization Mobile Response works in three ways. First, it’s a phone number for parents to call. “A phone number that provides triage to families and youth in crisis. ‘Okay. What do we do now? What’s the next step? What needs to happen?'”

Related: Researchers say mental health affected by daylight exposure

Based on what they learn in the initial call, the team can send someone to the home right away. “The mobile response portion is ‘Hey, we actually need someone to come to where you are, assess the situation and provide that hands on support to get through the crisis,” Giles said. “And then the third part of the service is the  in-home stabilization.”

Mental health services: from toddler to teenager

“The service is for anyone under the age of 20 in the state, and so really can be anything the family is considering a crisis,” Dr. Giles explained. “It can be a toddler who’s having an extreme temper tantrum breakdown and you just do not know what to do because the behaviors are so extreme, to a teenager who’s feeling suicidal.”

SMR is not just help for the child. It’s help for the family. “Typically, it’s providing interventions for the child that’s in crisis, but also with the family to help them know how to best respond and know what to do.”

In-person or telehealth

Sometimes the only help that is needed is connecting the family to resources, but when a mobile response is needed, it can be in person or telehealth. “The difference between that mobile response being in person versus virtual depends mostly on geography,” Dr. Giles said. “So, right now in-person mobile response is available in Wasatch, Utah and Juab Counties in the western region, and also Salt Lake and many of our counties in the north.

“We are launching a virtual response service in Wayne, Piute, Severe, Millard and Sanpete counties.”

Parents needing mental health support for their children through SMR or other means should call 1-833-SAFE-FAM.  The Utah Crisis Line is 801-587-3000. Download the SafeUT app or dial 911 in life-threatening situations.


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Sen Lee debates formula...
Mark Jones

Sen. Lee shares insights in recent visit with Mexico’s president

Utah Sen. Mike Lee joined inside Sources with Boyd Matheson to discuss a recent visit he along with seven other senators and four congressmen had with the president of Mexico.
24 hours ago
Crash totals...
Mark Jones

UHP: Three people dead in two-vehicle crash in Kane County

Three people are dead Tuesday night following a two-vehicle crash in Kane County, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.
24 hours ago
FILE - In this April 23, 2018 file photo, Gwyneth Paltrow arrives at the world premiere of "Avenger...
Lindsay Aerts

Gwyneth Paltrow ski crash trial begins in Park City, lawyer calls it “B.S.”

PARK CITY, Utah — In the opening day of the 2016 Gwyneth Paltrow ski crash trial in Park City, opening statements were given and a witness has testified. The Hollywood actress is being sued by Terry Sanderson, who claims she skied into him on the slopes at Deer Valley Resort.  Her lawyer didn’t mince words […]
24 hours ago
usu sign is pictured, a lawsuit has been filed against the school...
Hugo Rikard-Bell

USU grad files lawsuit against university for racist caricature

USU released a statement about the lawsuit and said the school followed its non-discrimination policy when the student initially made the complaint.
24 hours ago
Zions Bank branch at 7015 South Highland Dr. Cottonwood Heights on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. Zions B...
Curt Gresseth

Are joint bank accounts good or bad for couples?

Are joint bank accounts good or bad for a marriage. Dave and Debbie share their experiences.
24 hours ago
Devin Oldroyd

Gov. Cox signs bill requiring “historic” Utah state flag to be flown at Capitol at all times

Gov. Spencer Cox signed a new state flag bill Tuesday. S.B. 31 requires the "historic" Utah state flag to be flown at all times at the Capitol.
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...
BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.
Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a new winter activity? Try skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.
Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five common causes of Cervical Cancer – and what you can do to lower your risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get ready for fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 easy Christmas dinner ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Mental health services expanding for children (and parents) in Utah