According to U.S. News, about 15 percent of young women who are 15 years old have some form of depression. La Europa Academy in Salt Lake City treats teen girls dealing with anxiety/depression disorders, self-harming behaviors, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Many of these girls begin to exhibit symptoms of depression when they enter puberty. In over 70 percent of cases, a stressful event precedes a major depressive episode. Girls who are depressed are more likely to indulge in drugs and alcohol or to self-harm. Anxiety disorders may also coexist with depression in teen girls.Depression is different from teen mood swings. A serious depression lasts for over two weeks and includes symptoms like low energy, inability to concentrate, and loss of interest in eating and/or fun activities. La Europa Academy uses a combination of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) with art therapy to help young women overcome mental health issues in a nurturing environment. Art therapy is particularly suited to dealing with teenage girls, as it allows them to express and release without raising many of the normal defense mechanisms.
La Europa Academy is a residential treatment center for young women between the ages of 14 and 17. Integrating core academics with therapeutic fine arts and dance activities, La Europa Academy also provides individual and group therapies with highly qualified professionals in the field. Emphasizing small class sizes and close contact with teachers and therapists, La Europa Academy selects its residential staff for their ability to connect with students in mentorship roles. Many residential staff members are engaged in higher education towards helping degrees and are ideally situated to impart life skills of goal-setting and resiliency. New students are made to feel at home in the residential and school environment through interaction with a peer mentor. In addition to familiarizing girls with routines and expectations at the Academy, peer mentorship provides an opportunity for young women to take on responsibility and leadership roles. Young women entering La Europa Academy have experienced serious emotional and psychological issues and frequently have difficulty in structuring their lives. The Academy provides structure to student activities through a level system that grows more flexible as students master challenges and earn new privileges. The structured schedule also eases anxiety among girls, defining specific and recurring times for chores, therapy, social interaction, physical activity, and quiet/reflection time. The schedule has been developed to provide “teachable” moments throughout the day, in which young women to master particular skills and gain a sense of competence and control. Academy students live full-time at the Salt Lake City residential community. In addition to benefiting from a supportive clinical program, girls maintain regular interaction with the outside community. One community program that many La Europa Academy girls feel passionate about involves connecting with animals through the Intermountain Therapy Animal group.