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How a Hospital and a School District Teamed Up to Help Kids in Emotional Crisis

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

Article written by Rhitu Chatterjee and Christine Herman for KHN.

The concerning rise in mental health issues noticed by the Long Island school administrators mirrors national trends. Roughly 1 in 5 U.S. children meet the criteria for a mental health disorder, and the rate of suicide attempts among teens has risen over the past decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Without timely access to care, many kids end up with worsening symptoms and eventually land in a hospital emergency department.

School administrators also say the health center has played a critical role in prevention by promoting the emotional well-being of students, families and school personnel. School and health center staffers meet twice a month via Zoom to check in and brainstorm ways to address emerging health and wellness concerns of staff members and families.

Getting Kids the Right Help at the Right Time

The goal of the new health center is to provide kids with care as soon as symptoms emerge.

The center is staffed by a child psychiatrist, a mental health counselor and a medical assistant. It’s located next to a pediatrician’s office and within a few miles of the school districts it serves.

When a child first arrives, the child is evaluated to determine whether they need to be hospitalized.

It makes sense for children’s hospitals to partner with schools because that’s where kids spend most of their day, said Ramtekkar, the psychiatrist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Removing Barriers for the Most Vulnerable

The new health center provides an important safety net for kids who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

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