ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Emergency room visits caused by mental health among children and teens significantly increased nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the CDC, and ER visits related to eating disorders doubled among adolescent girls. 

Coming to the St. Louis area this summer is a new adolescent residential eating disorder facility. Clementine St. Louis will be Monte Nido & Affiliates’ first location in Missouri. The company is one of largest and leading eating disorder platforms in the country, according to a press release.

Chief Clinical Officer of Monte Nido & Affiliates Dr. Melissa Spann said the initial pandemic isolation, anxiety, the unknowns of the world, and the lack of structure in daily lives had a significant impact on people’s mental health. 

Spann said that research has shown social media played a large role in children's and teens’ eating disorders.

SSM Health Cardinal Glennon saw an increase in adolescents needing psychiatric care during the summer of 2020 through March 2021, according to Dr. Victoria Cornelius, SLUCare Adolescent Medicine Physician at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. 

Dr. Cornelius said she and her colleagues saw a lot of anxiety and disruption of schedules without school. There were also more sleep issues and less structure.

“A lot of need for some of our perfectionistic patients to have outlets they didn’t have otherwise, so they went to the internet and looked for ways to get healthy,” Dr. Cornelius said. 

She added that one thing they searched for was exercise videos. 

With the national data showing an increase in eating disorders hospitalizations among adolescents, Spann said she has seen a need for growth within Monte Nido & Affiliates. The organization’s newer program in Chicago consistently remains full, according to Spann, and she is glad to be able to reach more families by expanding into St. Louis.

As parents want their children to stay closer to home, Spann said it was important for Monte Nido & Affiliates to consider high geographical locations to determine where there is a need for an eating disorder facility.

“When we conduct our research, we look at population density and overall patterns within each area, and we did see that St. Louis was an area that we felt we could very strongly support the community and the kids who are struggling,” she said. 

Clementine St. Louis will provide care for up to eight adolescents at a time of all genders with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and/or exercise addiction.

Clementine St. Louis will open this summer. Photo courtesy of Movoto

It also will offer the highest level of care outside of a hospital setting within the comfort of a home environment, integrating personalized evidence-based medical, psychiatric, clinical and nutritional care, the press release states. The facility will feature 24-hour nursing, comprehensive academic and family support. 

“Our programming model within those 24 hours is specifically designed to meet the developmental needs of adolescents and teens,” Spann said. “And this is done through a variety of different ways — medical, psychiatric, nutritional oversight, and through developing individualized plans for every adolescent that walks through the door.”    

Monte Nido & Affiliates has 49 programs in 14 states with five eating disorder program brands, including Monte Nido, Clementine, Oliver-Pyatt Centers, Walden Behavioral Care and Rosewood Centers. 

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