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News & Events

Gov. Tony Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Sen. Tammy Baldwin tour Catalpa Health

APPLETON, Wis. (March 15, 2019)Catalpa Health, a mental health and wellness service provider for children and adolescents in the Fox Valley, hosted Governor Tony Evers, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and Senator Tammy Baldwin at its Treatment Center today in Appleton. 

Gov. Evers, Lt. Gov. Barnes and Sen. Baldwin toured the facility and met with Catalpa’s leadership team including president and CEO Mary Downs. They discussed the importance of mental health for children and adolescents and ways in which the state can partner with youth mental health providers to offer services to kids from infants through high school. 

“Our elected officials have a very deep commitment to mental health for our children and adolescents,” Downs said. “It was exciting to talk with the Governor, Lt. Governor and Senator about what we’re doing in the community and to find out what they want to do and how they want to invest in these important issues.” 

The Governor’s proposed budget would add $22 million each year to area schools for social workers, psychologists, counselors and nurses to assist students with mental health concerns. 

“Early intervention is key for improving kids’ mental health,” Gov. Evers said. “Educators, schools and community partners are the frontlines in meeting the challenge to ensure kids in Wisconsin have the support they need. I’m proud to invest in expanding our efforts around trauma, AODA and mental health first aid.” 

To learn more about Catalpa, or the mental health services it provides to children and adolescents, visit


Enhancements to outpatient behavioral health services for children/teens

APPLETON, Wis. (March 5, 2019) – Ascension Wisconsin and Catalpa Health are announcing that Catalpa’s current day treatment program will transition to Ascension NE Wisconsin – St. Elizabeth Campus in Appleton. Catalpa will offer a new intensive outpatient program specifically for patients who are transitioning from day treatment to traditional outpatient care.

“Catalpa was formed to serve the mental health care needs of children and teens in our community and we’re constantly evaluating the best way to meet those needs,” Mary Downs, president and CEO of Catalpa Health, said. “In discussion with our founders, Ascension Wisconsin, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and ThedaCare, it became clear that having a day treatment program offered in conjunction with the inpatient program at Ascension St. Elizabeth was in the best needs of our patients.”

Day treatment programming includes individual and group therapy, occupational therapy, life skills training and psychiatric services offered in a highly structured and nurturing environment.

“At Ascension Wisconsin, we’re committed to providing compassionate, personalized care for all – especially those who are most vulnerable,” said Tina Lechnir, regional director, Behavioral Health, Ascension NE Wisconsin. “We are confident this transition will provide enhanced behavioral health care for patients and families in the communities we are privileged to serve.”

Patients currently enrolled in Catalpa’s day treatment program will complete their treatment plan with Catalpa. The new day treatment program at Ascension St. Elizabeth and the intensive outpatient program at Catalpa are expected to open later this year.

Across the Fox Valley, Ascension Wisconsin provides behavioral and mental health care for children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. Ascension NE Wisconsin – St. Elizabeth Campus in Appleton has a 17-bed child and adolescent unit and a 16-bed adult behavioral health and substance abuse treatment inpatient unit. Ascension NE Wisconsin – Mercy Campus in Oshkosh has an eight-bed geropsychiatric unit and a seven-bed adult behavioral health and substance abuse inpatient unit.

Catalpa Health announces new hires and promotion

APPLETON, Wis. (Feb. 18, 2019)Catalpa Health, a mental health and wellness service provider for children and adolescents in the Fox Valley, has hired Brian Zaletel as its chief financial officer, and Kenneth Miller, SHRM-CP as its human resources manager, and promoted Scott Radtke, LPC to chief clinical officer.

Zaletel oversees all financial and business operations as Catalpa’s chief financial officer. He is a certified public accountant and certified revenue cycle representative with more than 15 years of experience in the health and medical industry. Zaletel earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business management and economics from the University of Tampa, and a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and Master of Business Administration degree in accounting and finance from Regis University.

In Miller’s new role as Catalpa’s human resources manager, he supports all functions of human resources, benefits, safety and payroll. He is a SHRM-Certified Professional and received his bachelor’s degree in human resource management from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Radtke has been with Catalpa since February 2016 and was promoted to chief clinical officer. In this role, he provides clinical oversight of program development and clinical solutions, and ensures the overall efficiency and effectiveness of Catalpa’s services. He has over 20 years of experience and earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in counseling from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Advice for parents: How to handle holiday tantrums

Take a second to imagine this: You and your kiddos are walking through Target to grab a few things. You generally try to avoid the toy aisles because you don’t want to get distracted, but then it happens. Your daughter sees the new limited edition doll and she starts begging you to buy it, but you have to say, “not right now.” This leads to a tantrum. Now you’re upset because she won’t stop, people are staring and you are doing everything in your power to hold it together until you can get back to the car and go home. Sound familiar?

Kids expectations are a big part of their tantrums. They are given an idea of what they want through catalogs, stores, etc. and when they don’t get it, they get upset.

It can be emotionally difficult for parents to navigate the holiday season. We have some tips to help with the emotions in both you and your kids.

  1. Identify the trigger: When you are in one of those high-stress moments, take a second to identify what triggered your child’s emotions. Was it not getting his or her way? Was it when you told them “no?” Next, identify what triggered your emotions. Was it when your child started crying in public?
  2. Create a detour: What is the ideal behavior I want to exhibit? How can I get on my child’s level, validate their feelings and show them an alternative? Instead of getting angry and raising your voice, take a deep breath and focus on keeping your tone calm.
  3. Rehearse: We are very familiar with practicing when it comes to sports and music, but it applies to emotions too. When you regularly practice identifying your trigger, staying calm and creating your detour, you are better prepared for when that high-stress situation strikes. Prepare for the public situations when you are at home and your child is acting up.
  4. CELEBRATE: Celebrate the fact that you accomplished this victory as a parent and celebrate your child’s victory too. Give yourself a high-five when you handle the situation like you practiced. When your kids overcome the challenge, celebrate with them! Kids strive to make their parents proud and receive praise so when you celebrate their victory of overcoming the challenge of emotions, make it a big deal, because it is.

Remember, this takes practice and it’s especially hard for kids to navigate their emotions during the holidays. They are flooded with commercials and catalogues that set their expectations high which is what leads to the disappointment. So, get on their level, feel their feelings and celebrate their victories. You got this!

Catalpa Health names Mary Downs as new President/CEO

APPLETON, Wis. (Aug. 13, 2018) – Catalpa Health, a mental health and wellness service provider for children and adolescents in Northeast Wisconsin, has named Mary Downs as its new President/CEO. Downs joins Catalpa after serving as the executive director of the Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) Foundation. Before her time with the FVTC Foundation, Downs worked at ThedaCare and was involved in the formation of Catalpa in 2012. 

“We could not have designed someone more qualified than Mary for this position,” Dave VanderZanden, board chair for Catalpa Health, said. “With her extensive expertise in mental health and her proven track record in leadership, Mary is a tremendous asset for us and I can’t wait to see how she leads Catalpa in transforming the way mental health care is provided to children and teens in our community.”

As a dedicated community volunteer, Downs has served on the board of directors of CHAPS Academy and Samaritan Counseling Center, and is currently a member of the board of directors of NAMI-Fox Valley and LEAVEN. In 2017, Downs was named the Janet Berry Volunteer of the Year for her leadership in mental health.

“I have worked closely with Catalpa since its inception and being given the opportunity to lead such a fantastic organization is an honor.” Downs said. “I am excited to work with the caring professionals at Catalpa to find ways to continue to help children in our community get the mental health care they need.”

Scott Radtke, director of clinic operations and interim president/CEO, will continue at the helm of Catalpa until Downs joins the organization on September 28, 2018.

“On behalf of Catalpa’s board, I would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to Scott for the wonderful job he has done serving as our interim president/CEO,” VanderZanden said. “We are so very fortunate to have Scott and the entire excellent team at Catalpa.”

Since its founding more than five years ago, Catalpa has served more than 20,000 children and teens, and has decreased the wait time for an initial mental health evaluation from 60 days to 3.6 days. The organization has grown from 30 employees to more than 100 and now has offices in Appleton, Oshkosh and Waupaca, in addition to providing care in more than 37 schools.


Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve and Catalpa Health partner to offer mindfulness activities

APPLETON, Wis. (July 10, 2018) – Catalpa Health is partnering with the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve in Appleton to offer mindfulness walks for children and families at the nature preserve. The free program is available to the general public and will also be used as an activity tool for Catalpa providers who may recommend it to children and their families.

Nature has been known to help people relax, sleep better, lose weight, focus easier and provide many other health benefits. In 2007, the University of Essex found that within a group of people suffering from depression, 90 percent felt a higher level of self-esteem after a walk through a park, and almost three-fourths felt less depressed.

The program includes mindfulness activities that are self-directed, self-paced and support the services that are offered to Catalpa patients. In addition, these activities will also be available to guests of the Bubolz Nature Preserve for familes to use to engage their children with nature.

A few of the activities that will be offered include: guided breathing, stretching, sensory awareness, find and seek, family interaction and self-reflection questions. Catalpa therapists will incorporate the mindfulness trails into their treatment plans, encouraging clients and families to participate as part of their homework and goals.

To learn more about the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve, Catalpa Heath or any of the individualized activities in the ecotherapy program, visit



Catalpa Health child psychologist provides guidance for talking with children about school violence

APPLETON, Wis(March 7, 2018) – In response to the increasing number of school and public mass shootings across the U.S., Jillian Schuh, Ph.D., child psychologist with Catalpa Health, provides the following information for parents, teachers and teens. 


Talking with Children about School Violence

School violence, and in particular the most recent school shooting, can elicit many emotions. For students who experience it directly, it can be terrifying, traumatic and life-altering. Students who hear about these tragedies may also feel fearful, confused and helpless. Children often have questions about school violence, and the caring adults in their lives might also find themselves questioning how to help children cope with stories and images of shootings that can often be traumatic. In this time of uncertainty, the following suggestions are provided for parents and educators on how to discuss school violence and events in the media:

  • Start the conversation. Be willing to talk about school violence with your child. If you are anxious about the topic, chances are your child is as well. Recognize these feelings in yourself and use them as a guide to support both you and your child as you enter the conversation. Opening yourself to talk about school violence gives your child permission to do the same, and makes the topic less threatening. Give reassurance that it is okay to talk about these events, and it is okay to feel sad and scared. Use your own emotional state as a compass for when to check in with your child or when to pause in the conversation. There is no perfect moment to have these conversations. It is more important to approach the topic than waiting for the “right time.” Notice nonverbal cues that your child may want to talk, such as staying close to you as you do a chore, watching you quietly or wanting you to stay longer during their nighttime routine. Nonverbal cues, especially with younger kids, can also be an important indicator that your child may be struggling. You may notice your child is more withdrawn, irritable, restless or have difficulty concentrating.
  • Listen. What does your child already know? What have they heard from friends, family and the media? Find out what is being communicated at their school. Ask broad, open-ended questions to start the conversation (e.g., “What have you heard?”), keeping the focus on their responses. Notice when their perceptions may be different from reality, and provide correct information in age-appropriate language. Recognize underlying fears and acknowledge them.
  • Encourage questions and answer directly and honestly. Use your child’s questions as a guide. They can often shed light on how much information your child already knows. When giving responses, be mindful of your child’s age. A younger child may only need simple and brief information paired with reassurance of safety. An older child, who knows greater details about the events, may need more acknowledgement and validation of their emotional reactions. Be mindful to avoid offering false hope (e.g., “something like that won’t happen to you”), and instead acknowledge the possibility while emphasizing that these events are very rare. Talk about what is already being done to keep them safe.
  • Acknowledge uncertainty. It is okay not to have all the answers, none of us do. Validate your child’s emotional experience, and join with them as you are able. Provide hope as you are able. Responses such as, “I don’t have an answer to that. I’m sad and worried too, but one thing I do know is I’m here to care for you and keep you safe” or “Let’s see if we can figure that out together,” can provide comfort when there is no answer.
  • Emphasize safety. It is normal for children to hear about tragedies and become fearful about the possibility of these happening to them. Reassure that you, other adults in their life and their school work every day to keep them safe. Talk about what is already practiced at school to ensure safety.
  • Emphasize what they can do. School violence can lead students to feel powerless and helpless. Offer your child a sense of control by discussing what they can do to help ensure the safety of themselves and their peers. This might mean reviewing their school’s safety guidelines and reminding them to communicate safety concerns to school personnel and other trusted adults. Families might review plans for safety should a crisis happen at home. Remind them that they can always tell a trusted adult if someone makes them feel unsafe with their words or behavior. Model opportunities for change and coping; consider with your child possible ways to offer support and condolences to the victims and their families and emphasize moments of kindness within the midst of tragedy (e.g., the bravery of other students, heroic efforts of law enforcement, quick response from medical teams).
  • Monitor news and social media exposure. Be mindful of your child’s exposure to images and videos of school shootings. It may not be appropriate for younger children to have any exposure to this media content. With nonstop media coverage, be cautious about what your child may be overhearing even when they appear to be focused on other things, such as schoolwork or play. For school age children and teens that may use social media, be mindful of what your children are viewing and discussing with one another. Photographs and videos circulating on social media can be intense and graphic. Encourage your child to come to you if they view something distressing. Provide information on how these images have the potential to be anxiety provoking, upsetting and even traumatizing. Offer them permission to take a break from social media, and limit your child when necessary.
  • Seek support. If you recognize your child continuing to be fearful, sad, irritable or experience reoccurring and distressing thoughts of the event, they may be in need of greater assistance. Every child experiences trauma differently, and those with persisting symptoms may benefit from meeting with a mental health professional or school counselor.
  • Keep the conversations going. Children have different ways of responding to tragedy. Some may have many questions from the beginning. Others may be quieter, and it is important to be patient and encourage that they talk more when they are ready. Regardless of the initial response, invite your child to continue to talk about school violence. Let them know they can ask you questions any time and foreshadow that you may be checking in with them too.

Organizations across the nation are teaming together to provide supports to children and caring adults in their life in the aftermath of the recent school shooting. Below are additional resources:

For children and families in need of additional support:

Additional resources on talking with children about school violence:

For more information on the services provided by Catalpa Health, please visit


Catalpa Health provides mental health services including psychiatric evaluations, neuropsychological evaluations, psychological evaluations and concussion testing to children and teens, as well as mental health therapy to children, teens and families throughout the Fox Valley, Oshkosh and Waupaca. A collaboration of Ascension Wisconsin, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and ThedaCare, Catalpa Health believes in community partnerships and works with other mental health providers to ensure that all children and teens are receiving the right care at the right time, close to home.

Catalpa Health offers Sibshop series to support siblings of kids with mental health challenges

APPLETON, Wis. (Jan. 5, 2018) – Catalpa Health, a mental health and wellness service provider for children and adolescents in the Fox Valley, is offering the Sibshop Series to help siblings of children with mental health challenges. 

Kids ages 8 – 14 growing up with sisters and brothers with emotional and mental health concerns are invited to a special series of Sibshops® from January through May of 2018. The Catalpa Sibshop Series is a collaboration between Catalpa Health and WisconSibs and is funded by a grant from the Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region. As a result of the grant, the five Sibshops will be free for participants.  

Sibshops are celebrations of the important role of “typical” sisters and brothers of kids with disabilities and special health care needs. Led by trained facilitators, these workshops combine recreation, information, discussion and connection opportunities with other siblings in a lively, relaxed setting that emphasizes a kid’s-eye view of sibling issues. 

The sessions will be held on these Thursdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m.: Jan. 18, Feb. 15, Mar. 15, Apr. 26 and May 17. The April 26 event will also feature a separate parent discussion session. The location will be the Catalpa Heath Day Treatment Center located at, 1920 N. Casaloma Drive, just south of Fox Cities Stadium.   

To register for any or all of these sessions, call the WisconSibs office at 920-968-1742 or email [email protected]. 

The Catalpa Series is in addition to the regular Sibshops, camps, social events and future planning sessions offered by WisconSibs, Inc. for siblings of various ages.  

For more information about these resources visit, 


Catalpa Health provides mental health services including psychiatric evaluations, neuropsychological evaluations, psychological evaluations and concussion testing to children and teens, as well as mental health therapy to children, teens and families throughout the Fox Valley, Oshkosh and Waupaca. A collaboration of Affinity Health System, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and ThedaCare, Catalpa Health believes in community partnerships and works with other mental health providers to ensure that all children and teens are receiving the right care at the right time, close to home. 


New Catalpa Health Waupaca clinic celebrates opening with ribbon-cutting on Dec. 19


Public and media invited to Waupaca clinic open house event 


WAUPACA, Wis. (Dec. 5, 2017)Catalpa Health, a mental health and wellness service provider for children and adolescents, will celebrate the opening of its brand-new Waupaca clinic with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house on Dec. 19, from 7:30 to 9 a.m., and from 5 to 7 p.m.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony will commence shortly after 5 p.m. at the new clinic in the Waupaca Woods Mall, located at 815 W. Fulton St., Suite 6, Waupaca (map). Catalpa invites all media and the public to either the morning or evening open house to tour the new clinic, enjoy light refreshments and meet the staff who will be working at the Waupaca location.

Those interested in attending the event are asked to RSVP to community liaison Kristie Marx by emailing [email protected] or calling 920-750-7034.

The Waupaca clinic is open Mondays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling 920-750-7000.

For more information on the services provided by Catalpa Health, please visit


Considerations about “13 Reasons Why” series

by Jillian Schuh, PhD – Catalpa Health

A new Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why,” has received significant attention in both mainstream and social media for its depiction of teen suicide and mental health. Since its release, there has been much controversy. Proponents praise the series for creating dialogue around suicide, and critics express concern for its portrayal of suicide as a solution without discussion of prevention or seeking of mental health intervention.

Bullying, trauma, depression, and suicide are real issues for teens. Media portrayal of these situations can help to reduce stigma, but it is also essential that audiences learn facts surrounding mental health and options for treatment.  Viewing suicide as heroic or an opportunity for revenge is concerning.

Caregivers and adolescents are encouraged to discuss these topics, particularly suicidal ideation, openly as a family. “13 Reasons Why” is rated TV MA, meaning that it is designed to be viewed by adults; it may not be suitable for children under 17 due to graphic depictions of suicide and sexual trauma, as well as mature language.

Catalpa Health urges caregivers to think critically about the impact this can have on their teens, particularly those who are more impressionable or in vulnerable situations where they may be experiencing suicidal ideation and/or depression. Young viewers are encouraged to contemplate whether watching this show is an appropriate choice for them. Should they decide to watch, they are encouraged to view it with a family member or trusted adult. Talking points to assist caregivers, teachers, and teens in specifically discussing the series can be found here.

Whether you may be considering watching or have already viewed “13 Reasons Why,” the links below can be helpful in gaining perspective about the series, learning a better understanding of the cautions, and fostering positive and open conversation. No one is ever truly alone, and there are effective treatments for preventing suicide and alleviating mental illness.

Our final message to teens, families, and the community is to care for each other and ourselves, seek help when in pain, and never worry alone. Support from friends, family, and mental health professionals saves lives every day.

If you ever become concerned about the safety or welfare of yourself, a friend, or family member, please reach out to those who can help.

Additional resources:

American Psychiatric Association – 13 Mental Health Questions about “13 Reasons Why”

  • Provides 13 answers to important questions surrounding depression, anxiety, and suicide.

National Association of School Psychologists – “13 Reasons Why” Netflix Series: Considerations for Educators

  • Cautions and guidance for educators and their families, along with safe, positive messaging for students.

The JED Foundation – Netflix 13 Reasons Why: What Viewers Should Consider

  • Considerations, discussion points, and other resources surrounding “13 Reasons Why”

Post-Crescent – Netflix Series “13 Reasons Why” Sparks Concern

  • Local coverage from area experts regarding the series

May 2017