Carter Barnhart ’10: Making Mental Health Care More Accessible
Carter Barnhart ’10 says she had an ‘incredible childhood.’ But when she was fourteen years old, Carter was sexually assaulted, leading to years of struggle with anxiety, depression, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
After two and a half years of failed treatment attempts, Carter became the second patient at the Newport Academy, a residential treatment facility that had been set up specifically to help girls between the ages of 14 and 17 who had experienced sexual trauma.
“I had a life-changing experience there,” says Carter. “For the first time, I had a cohort of people to whom I could relate. At the same time, I received treatment that was truly individualized to me and unique to my specific needs.”
Upon leaving Newport Academy, Carter enrolled at Shipley for her senior year of high school. She fondly recalls how Steve Piltch, who was Head of School at the time, would meet with her every Monday. “He really took the time to care about me as an individual,” she says.
During college, Carter interned for Newport Academy and subsequently turned that into a full-time job after college. “I spent eleven years helping to grow this small program into what is known today as the gold-standard for residential treatment,” says Carter.
When Newport Academy was sold, Carter became co-founder and CEO of Charlie Health in 2021 with the goal of providing the same high-quality, personalized mental health treatment experience, but making it accessible for everyone through a virtual intensive outpatient program (IOP) that combines group, individual, and family therapy sessions delivered entirely online.
Under Carter’s leadership, Charlie Health has grown at a rapid pace. In 2022, she was named to Inc. Magazine’s Female Founders 100 list. Amid these accolades, Carter is proud of the fact that Charlie Health has made IOPs much more accessible. “Ninety-five percent of the population does not have access to an [in-person] intensive outpatient program or the means to get there,” says Carter. “That’s why we’re really focused on expanding access. It’s so rewarding and validating now to see our outcome data and know that we’re helping high-acuity kids with the most difficult mental health challenges access care when they need it.”
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.