Discovery Unit - Adolescent Inpatient Mental Health

The Discovery Unit is an acute, inpatient program for adolescents, 13-18 years old, whoDiscoveryUnit are in need of intensive crisis intervention, stabilization and behavioral health treatment. The unit is designed to provide a safe and therapeutic environment for those experiencing a crisis.

Crisis Intervention
Crisis care is provided through the Emergency Department at Providence Alaska Medical Center or the Crisis Line at (907) 563-3200. Adolescents in crisis are evaluated by a psychiatric nurse practitioner or a licensed mental health counselor who will conduct a mental status examination, meet with the parents/guardians and confer with the psychiatrist on-call or the adolescent’s physician to determine if hospitalization is needed. If inpatient care is required, the adolescent will be admitted as quickly and smoothly as possible. If not recommended, the adolescent will be assisted through the immediate crisis and referred for outpatient therapy.

Program Overview

The foundation of the Discovery Unit is to provide groups that teach adolescents how to cope with daily issues. Each day they attend both group and individual therapy.

The staff consists of registered nurses, mental health therapists, mental health specialists, patient care technicians, educators and discharge planners who work together with a treatment team of psychiatrists, psychologists, utilization review representatives and a physician. All patient treatment is monitored by the medical director and attending psychiatrists.

The Discovery Unit is not locked. Patients are expected to be responsible for staying on the unit, following unit guidelines and participating in daily activities of the program.

Issues Addressed

  • Anger Management
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Depression
  • Family Conflicts
  • Grief and Loss Issues
  • High-Risk Behaviors
  • Homicidal Ideations
  • Impulse Control
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Psychosis
  • Self-Esteem Issues
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Suicidal Ideations

Our education liaison is an experienced, certified teacher who works with school personnel and patients and their families to coordinate assignments, transitions back to school, relevant treatment information and positive community support.


What is the Length of Treatment at Discovery?
The average length of stay is 10 to 14 days. This allows the treatment team to assess the issues/problems, make appropriate recommendations and arrange for follow-up services.


Are Families Involved in Treatment?
Yes, the key to positive change for adolescents is providing a safe and consistent environment for adolescents and families to learn and practice communication tools.


Guidelines for Inpatient Stay

  • Bring only three sets of clothing, one comfort item (stuffed animal, pillow, etc.), and toiletries (preferably without glass or mirrors).
  • Visitors are restricted to parents/guardians and siblings.
  • Adolescents can only call parents/guardians and can receive calls from adult family members who have the designated code word.
  • Visiting hours are daily from noon to 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Parents/guardians can call the unit any time to check in with staff.

Discharge Planning
Discharge planning begins at admission to the Discovery Unit. Parents/guardians will be asked to sign releases of information for previous mental health providers so records and history can be obtained. The discharge planners work closely with the treatment team, the adolescent, and the family in arranging ongoing treatment. Follow-up services that can be arranged based on recommendation are individual therapy, family therapy, drug and alcohol treatment and residential care.

For more information
To learn more about the Providence Discovery Unit, please call (907) 212-4843. To find general information and specific health topics, visit our online health library