Compass Virtual Solves Access Limitations for Teens Across Illinois Needing Psychiatric Support After New CDC Survey Shows Lack of Services

Chicago, Illinois, April 1, 2022 – Increased access to evidence-based, supportive mental health treatment for teens is shown to improve overall wellbeing and lessen the traumatic stressors caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Illinois-based Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) behavioral health treatment program, Compass Virtual, is helping to solve the teen mental health crisis through virtual psychiatric and comprehensive mental health services across the state, specifically for teens ages 13-18.

The typical mental health treatment path for teens in need of intermediate-level care is often traumatic and ineffective. Adolescents are placed on months-long waiting lists to see a psychiatrist. At Compass Virtual, teens receive evidence-based, patient-centered treatment and see a psychiatrist within days. Compass Virtual was developed to allow adolescents across Illinois to access the same high-level mental health services as those who live near a Compass Health Center. Compass Virtual also alleviates the hassle of travel and planning around school schedules as patients have the flexibility to receive services from the comfort of their natural environment.

“There is an extreme shortage of psychiatrists and specialized clinicians across the country, and it especially impacts adolescents, healthcare providers, and rural communities,” said Claudia Welke, MD, Chief Medical Officer, and Co-founder of Compass Health Center and Compass Virtual. “Adolescents and our rural communities are at heightened risk due to lack of access to high-quality, intermediate level behavioral health care and interventions. When you cannot travel to an in-person location for PHP/IOP services or cannot endure the waitlist for services, Virtual PHP and IOP is an effective option for treatment.”

The need for high-quality, intermediate levels of mental health care, as an alternative to the Emergency Room or inpatient hospitalization, is critical. The CDC analyses, published Thursday, reported that more than a third of high school students experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and 44% said they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year.

“These data echo a cry for help,” said CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H, in the CDC’s press release published Thursday. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created traumatic stressors that have the potential to further erode students’ mental wellbeing. Our research shows that surrounding youth with the proper support can reverse these trends and help our youth now and in the future.”

Compass Virtual partners with hospitals, schools, local therapists, and insurance companies, to help teens seeking PHP/IOP level care to maintain life at home while receiving life-changing behavioral health treatment online. The goal of treatment is to help teens return to a lower level of care, such as once-a-week outpatient therapy, as quickly as possible.

“The inability to route adolescent patients to the appropriate level of care contributes to worsening symptoms for those teens, and places undue stress on other systems within their community: specifically, schools, hospitals, and outpatient therapy practices. Virtual PHP and IOP can immediately help to alleviate this burden by providing adolescents and their families with convenient access to intensive psychiatric services,” said Taryn Kerr, LCSW, Senior Director of Virtual Programs, Compass Virtual.

Compass Virtual adolescent patients present with a variety of mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, school refusal, trauma, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance use, with clinical outcomes that equal in-person treatment success.

About Compass Health Center & Compass Virtual

Compass Health Center was founded in 2011 by David Schreiber, MD, and Claudia Welke, MD, child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrists who recognized the Chicago community’s need for intensive, non-hospital-based psychiatric care. While working together in a hospital, Drs. Schreiber and Welke realized that there were not enough psychiatrists or outpatient programs to treat the children they saw in behavioral health crises. As a result, children were being placed on long wait lists, which often only made them sicker, resulting in ER visits that would lead to admission for inpatient care. Drs. Schreiber and Welke realized that with the proper resources in place, many of these ER and inpatient hospitalizations could have been avoided and replaced with a level of care that was timelier, more appropriate, and less costly and disruptive.

Compass Health Center’s evidence-based, comprehensive treatment model provides patients ages five through adulthood with intensive care while maintaining life at home. Meeting patients’ behavioral health needs leads to better, outcomes-driven care. Today, Compass Health Center is Illinois’ largest and most respected PHP/IOP program, with more than 45 full-time psychiatrists/PNP’s and 350+ highly trained master-level therapists covering both location-based and virtual care models. Our primary treatment modalities include psychiatric medication management, group therapy (e.g., DBT, CBT, ACT, ERP), individual therapy, family therapy, experiential therapy, and psychiatric nursing.

Available for Interviews

Chief Medical Officer and Co-founder, Compass Health Center & Compass Virtual

Claudia Welke, MD, is a native to the North Shore area. She completed her medical training at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She then completed her psychiatric residency in Adult Psychiatry and a fellowship in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine, where she earned various honors and distinctions.

Upon her return to the North Shore, Dr. Welke became an attending physician at Highland Park Hospital, where she saw patients across their lifespan in various program settings, including inpatient hospitalization and outpatient care. During this time, she acted as the Director of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry training for the University of Chicago fellows rotating through the Hospital. Dr. Welke is double boarded in both Adult and Child and Adolescent psychiatry.

Dr. Welke has appeared as a mental health medical expert on WGN 9, Fox News, and in many print and online media sources

Senior Director of Virtual Programs, Compass Virtual

Taryn Kerr, LCSW, is the Senior Director of Virtual Programs at Compass Virtual. She leads with a deep understanding of the complex challenges that exist in the behavioral health space and the need to provide increased access to care through high-quality virtual programs. As a licensed clinical social worker in the Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) program healthcare space, she is passionate about providing high-quality, evidence-based mental health services to individuals regardless of geographic or circumstantial barriers.

Kerr received a Master of Arts, Social Service Administration, from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, from the University of Michigan.

To learn more about our programs or to schedule an intake, visit our website or call to speak to one of our intake specialists.

Downloadable Resource: When to Refer to Compass Virtual PHP/IOP

Media Contact: Kelly Jones
Head of Marketing & Partnerships, Compass Health Center
312.404.4127 |

Brittney Teasdale

Associate Director of Brand Management