NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — The conference room at the Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut is part of its renovated wing where its Urgent Crisis Center will be located in New London.
They say it’s a better alternative to an emergency room for kids with mental health crises. Here they’ll get wraparound care and leave with a plan so they know what their next step will be.
“They’re kids whose depression has gotten worse,” said the agency’s CEO, Lisa Otto. “They’re kids who have thoughts of suicide or who have actively made suicide attempts.”
Otto says over the last decade, she has seen more kids in crisis, and she’s happy now to see lawmakers put together a new Transforming Children’s Behavioral Health Policy and Planning Committee, which will oversee services.
New London Human Services Director Jeanne Milstein, the state’s former child advocate, is among the members.
“Let’s look at where’s the money going?” said Milstein. “Is there a continuum of care?”
“I think I’ve helped kids and parents recognize their challenges but also recognize their resilience,” said Mental Health Clinician and Supervisor Kristen Aberizk.
She spent 12 years at the clinic in the Regional Multicultural Magnet School in New London and is moving to a new school-based clinic in Ledyard where kids are also in crisis.
“Just overall feeling very stressed out about home life, school expectations, and putting a lot of pressure on themselves to perform,” Aberizk said.
“They’re not learning when they’re struggling with mental health issues,” said Killingly parent Christine Rosati Randall.
She is fighting for a school-based clinic at her high school which she says would mean easier and more immediate access to students at no cost to taxpayers.
“It’s still a struggle here,” said Rosati Randall. “Absolutely.”
The closest urgent crisis center would be the one in New London.
The Child & Family Agency has already had a soft opening for its urgent crisis center at one of its other New London locations. That was back on June 20; they’ve seen ten patients since then.
The permanent location on Hempstead Street could open in the next week.
They say the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome.