CLC Week 4 Talks Child Health and Mental Health


October 14, 2016


The physical and behavioral health of a child in even the first few years of life can have a significant impact on his or her overall well-being into adolescence and adulthood.

Over the last few years, New York City has made great progress in ensuring that the overwhelming majority (98%) of children have health insurance. Insurance is a crucial tool for children to receive the primary preventive services and mental and physical healthcare that they need. But there are still disparities in access to health and mental services and programs.

Organizations throughout the city are working to close these gaps, and last week, our CLC participants visited several of them. They learned about their services and the policies and programs that enable them to ensure all children have access to affordable and comprehensive healthcare.

Research has shown school-based health centers to be one of the most effective and efficient ways to provide children with preventive healthcare. School-based health centers treat children where they already are – school – so students miss less class time and families do not need to take time off from work or worry about transportation costs to ensure their children receive medical treatment. CLC participants got a firsthand look at how school-based health centers work in a visit to the Montefiore Health System’s School Health Program, which provides medical, mental health, dental, and community health to public school students throughout the Bronx.

For children who cannot access healthcare at school, The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center (MSAHC) provides free, confidential, comprehensive care for a variety of health needs. This program provides youth access to a ‘one-stop shop’ to address health needs, regardless of his or her ability to pay. MSAHC also provides legal assistance to help kids and families manage legal issues that can take a serious toll on physical and mental well-being, such as immigration difficulties or housing problems.

Mental health care has long suffered from stigma and a shortage of resources to both treat people living with mental illness and promote preventive and early intervention services customized to the unique needs of each patient. New York City’s THRIVE initiative has prioritized reducing stigma, increasing crisis intervention and referral.

Bellevue Hospital Center’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry provides services for children with a range of mental health issues. Children who present a high risk to themselves or others can stay there for up to three weeks while health professionals work with children and their families to develop a treatment plan, and patients attend the on-site school so they don’t fall behind academically.

Mental health and behavioral problems can sometimes arise when there are stressors in a child’s home. The New York Family Foundling Mental Health Clinic specializes in strengthening family relationships to improve mental health. The Clinic helps Harlem children struggling with issues such as truancy, depression, and anger work through those issues with their families in healthy ways so that they can thrive mentally, socially, and emotionally.

CCC works alongside these agencies and others to expand access to critical health and mental health services to children and families.

If you missed last week’s post on the CLC’s visits to organizations fighting youth and family homelessness, you can catch up here. And check back soon for an update on the CLC’s week on early childhood education!

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