Evolve Mount Helix Residential Treatment Center

La Mesa, East San Diego, California

Evolve’s residential treatment center is located in a beautiful contemporary home in San Diego, in the small, quiet neighborhood of Mt. Helix. Named after the picturesque mountain peak in its center, this private, semi-rural community is located east of La Mesa and overlooks the El Cajon Valley. Teens live on-site for an average of 30-60 days, receiving round-the-clock support and treatment for mental health, substance abuse, or dual diagnosis issues. Evolve Mount Helix specializes in treating teens struggling with depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, self-harming behavior, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, Conduct Disorder, psychosis, trauma, aggression, addiction, or other high-acuity mental health or behavioral issues.

In the 19th century, dozens of famous writers, musicians, actors, and singers chose homes in this San Diego neighborhood for the peaceful, serene atmosphere Mt. Helix provided. Secluded from the hustle and bustle of the city but still conveniently close to shops, eateries, the ocean, and medical care, this area is now known as the “Grossmont Artists Colony” offered a quiet haven that inspired reflection. And it still does. The Mt. Helix community is still known for its serenity and privacy – the perfect setting for adolescents to focus on their emotional growth.

Residential Treatment at Evolve Mount Helix

The residential treatment experience at Evolve is unparalleled, setting the standard for excellence in clinical care for teens. Our mental health treatment centers for teens are warm, comfortable, and homey, designed to put our residents at ease so they can focus solely and completely on what matters: stabilization and recovery. At the same time, our safety protocols are among the most robust in the country. We only serve six teens at any given time, and our staff to client ratio is 1:3, one of the highest ratios available for a teen residential treatment center. Teens are always in the line of sight and line of hearing of our staff at all times. We incorporate state-of-the-art monitoring technology and offer 1:1 observation when necessary. Treatment can be hard work, but we know that in the right environment, with the right people, teens can develop practical coping skills, learn more about themselves, build enriching new relationships, and yes, have fun. Our licensed, qualified staff encourage personal growth and lay the foundation for sustainable recovery that lasts long after patients leave our treatment center. Teens feel like they’re in a personal, individualized recovery center designed to meet their specific therapeutic needs – because that’s exactly where they are.

Personalized Treatment for Total Healing

Our teens receive evidence-based, results-oriented, solution-focused therapy.

After being admitted to Evolve Mount Helix residential treatment center, a multi-disciplinary treatment team conducts a face-to-face evaluation of each teen in order to craft an individualized treatment plan that considers their past history, background, and clinical goals. We learn everything we can about each of our teens before creating this customized recovery plan. Our treatment approaches include psychiatry, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and other evidence-based modalities. We also offer experiential therapies such as equine-assisted therapy, art therapy, music therapy, surf therapy, yoga, fitness, hiking, and more. Experiential activities provide fun, healthy outlets for teens, expose them to new ways of expressing themselves, and help them discover what a “life worth living” looks like for them. Each day, we also dedicate specific hours for academic support so teens can stay on track with their schooling.

We offer a wide range of therapeutic modalities since we believe that each adolescent connects differently and that recovery can happen in a variety of ways. Teens participate in daily group therapy on DBT Skills Training (where they learn the core skills-sets of Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance, and Interpersonal Effectiveness), Seeking Safety (a treatment for co-occurring addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder), Anger Management, Relapse Prevention, SMART Recovery, and 12-Step programming. Our daily schedules also include groups such as Health & Wellness and Independent Living to help teens learn important life skills that prepare them to effectively navigate day-to-day living.

At Evolve Mount Helix, we believe that supporting the entire family is vital to a positive treatment outcome for the teen. That’s why we offer consistent family therapy and parent support in addition to the individual therapy sessions a teen receives multiple times a week. (For out-of-state families, we can conduct family therapy via HIPAA-compliant video conference.) Our parent support groups are exclusively for parents of teens in Evolve programs (or alumni of these programs) to connect and gain practical guidance.

Recovery plans at Evolve Mount Helix include the following therapeutic modalities:

Individual Therapy

Group Therapy

Family Therapy

A Full Continuum of Care in San Diego

In addition to our Mount Helix residential treatment center, Evolve also offers a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and intensive outpatient program (IOP) in San Diego, which offers local teens the chance to maintain their growth and treatment progress while still remaining within Evolve’s same excellent network of care.

Mindfulness Practices



Mindful Walking

Mindful Cooking

Our teens also take part in a wide range of innovative experiential therapies, such as:

Music, Art, & Dance

Equine-Assisted Therapy (Horses)


Physical Fitness

Social Outings

Evolve Mount Helix Staff

  • Arthur Chou, MD
    Arthur Chou, MD
  • Margaret Gutgsell, LMFT
    Margaret Gutgsell, LMFT
    Clinical Program Director
  • Tracey Johnson, LVN
    Tracey Johnson, LVN
    Facility Nurse
  • Antoinette Mastronardi, LMFT
    Antoinette Mastronardi, LMFT
    Primary Therapist
  • Ariana Castellanos, AMFT
    Ariana Castellanos, AMFT
    Primary Therapist

Take a virtual tour of Mount Helix

Photos of Our Mount Helix Program

Location Details

Our teen treatment home is located on a quiet, semi-rural street in Mt. Helix. A block away from the aptly named Grandview Drive, our luxury gated home features breathtaking vistas of the El Capitan mountains. Situated at the end of a long, sloped driveway and grassy lawn, our secluded mental health and addiction center affords the privacy and tranquility necessary for teens to focus on recovery. Natural sunlight streams in from the floor-to-ceiling windows, while high vaulted ceilings, carpeted floors, and beautiful landscaping make this teen mental health treatment center feel homey and warm. The grassy, one-acre estate is just a few minutes away from Mt. Helix Park, which sits more than 1300 feet above sea level and offers a variety of hiking trails as well as an outdoor amphitheater. Residents of San Diego come to this peaceful spot to watch sunsets, meditate, or simply enjoy the 360 degrees of panoramic views.

Our teen residential treatment center in Mt. Helix includes the following amenities:

  • Comfortable, well-appointed living quarters
  • Large, fully modern chef’s kitchen
  • School area with computers, printers, and everything needed for school work, personal enrichment, and therapy assignments
  • Dedicated spaces for therapy sessions and group time
  • Fully equipped gym
  • Basketball court
  • Sauna and spa
  • Swimming pool
  • Huge, grassy backyard with outdoor seating/eating/community areas
  • On-site chef