JAMISON MONROE, JR., is passionate about helping teenagers. As the founder of Newport Academy, he is dedicated to the health and wellness of teens at risk. His team works tirelessly with teens who suffer from anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-harm, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders. He should know what it takes, as he himself suffered as a teen. Today, he is a regular on national news media, he testified before Parliament in the United Kingdom on the subject of teen prescription drug abuse, and he produced the documentary Behind the Orange Curtain. Here are some of his thoughts on the topic of treating teens.
Why are teens more at risk these days?
Teens are at risk now more than ever. The United States currently has 5 percent of the global population, yet accounts for 75 percent of its prescription drug use. We live in a culture that operates on the assumption that everything can be quickly fixed by reaching outside of ourselves and taking a pill to alleviate any discomfort. This might create a sense of immediate relief, but the root of the problem remains untouched. Kids today are not generally taught how to process their feelings and use healthy coping mechanisms. We often don't uncover the underlying causes of mental health issues and substance abuse, which leaves our children at a much higher risk for developing destructive behavior.
Who are the teens coming to you for help?
Newport Academy focuses on teens who are exhibiting self-destructive behaviors to cope with feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, depression, and/or lack of self-worth. Our teens are brilliant, creative, intelligent people who are suffering under societal and environmental pressure. For many of our clients, life is difficult to manage, and they look for relief from pain and suffering through self-medication.
Besides self-harm, eating disorders, and substance abuse, what other issues do you see?
The core issue we address at Newport Academy is a lack of self-esteem. This insecurity and self-doubt leads to depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behaviors. When we look past the behaviors, we are able to see the unmanageable issues on a much deeper level. We walk our teens through their struggles and help them find a path to acceptance and healthy living.
What is your philosophy on tough love?
Our philosophy is love. Upon entering Newport Academy, our clients typically have a lack of self-respect and myriad insecurities. We meet them where they are and provide a safe and nurturing environment for deep issues to surface. When a teen comes to Newport Academy, our compassionate staff loves them until they can love themselves. The internal healing begins once kids see that they are beautiful, bright, and powerful enough to take control of their lives. Love is the foundation.
What is family care? What does this treatment entail?
Teens are a product of their family system, and many families that we treat experience dysfunction. Family therapy is a primary focus of healing at Newport Academy, and we expect families to put effort into their recovery as part of the healing process. Our therapists and psychiatrists hold weekly family therapy sessions and process groups to address issues that have negatively affected the family dynamic, and they work through those issues in an effort to restore the family unity. We also host the families every other Saturday on campus to practice their coping and communication skills with their teen in a safe and controlled environment.
You also run school campuses. Please explain how that works.
Newport Academy Day Schools are recovery high schools located in Newport Beach, California, and Darien, Connecticut. The Day Schools provide a balance between recovery counseling and academic programming, and ensure that students abstain from alcohol and other drugs during their high school education. Newport Academy Day Schools provide a safe place for students to accept challenges, develop true self-esteem, build healthy peer relationships, and set attainable goals for the future. Each student has a highly individualized curriculum and growth track to achieve maximum academic success.
Give us a mental picture of your facilities: What are the rooms and campus like?
Our residential facilities are gender-specific. Both East and West Coast campuses are immersed in nature and instill an immediate sense of peace upon teens' arrival. Surrounded by beautiful foliage, rolling green hills, and flowing rivers, our facilities are an idyllic and comforting home away from home. We have 75+ beds across the US.
What's the average stay?
At Newport Academy we offer treatment from clinicians and practitioners who are seasoned in the fields of mental health and substance use. Our treatment team has more than 200 combined years of clinical experience, and we have found that 30-day programs don't work. Our inpatient stays range from 45 days to 120 days in the residential setting. Our outpatient programs are designed to last a year, and students can attend our day schools for multiple years until they graduate from high school.
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Looking back on my life, I realize how big of an impact my experience at Newport Academy has had on me. Before I went to Newport Academy, my days were filled with a swirling torrent of negative thoughts and self-harm. Upon first arriving at the beautiful facilities and meeting the compassionate staff, I knew I was ready for a positive change. Going through treatment was a lot of hard work, but the challenges I faced changed my life for the better and taught me to believe in myself.
--Ann Marie, Alumna
I entered Newport Academy in 2009 a broken girl. The experiential therapy I participated in helped me find my personal strengths and weaknesses. The treatment I received was very individualized, and the staff was nurturing and creative in discovering forms of therapy that best met and supported my needs. During my first weeks in treatment, the staff often said to me, "We will love you until you love yourself," and they did. Today, with more than five years of sobriety, I am a staff member at Newport Academy, sharing with others the same gifts I was given. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to bring my experience, strength, and hopeful spirit to my work with adolescents who are struggling with many of the same issues I had.
Newport Academy helped save my family. We chose Newport Academy because it was small and had the ability to individualize treatment programs for the client. The staff provided the structure and safety that my child needed, in a loving manner. Therapy focused on the immediate needs of our child and our family's issues as a whole. Throughout both the residential and outpatient programs, Newport Academy provided counseling to our entire family, education on our individual issues, peer support for our child, and peer support for parents. The staff was accessible, kind, and respectful throughout our journey. Newport Academy gave us the tools and the skills to integrate back into a non-treatment life. I will forever be grateful.
Caption: Jamison Monroe, Jr. Founder of Newport Academy