When a child breaks a leg or has acute stomach pain, you know where to go: the emergency room at your local hospital.
But if your child is severely depressed or anxious and is talking about self-harm or suicide, where can you turn?
For the most part, trying to get a quick appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist is nearly impossible.
“We have heard many stories of desperate parents seeking help for their child who is experiencing a mental health crisis, and they’re told that the wait is more than two or three months away,” says Andrew Malekoff, Executive Director at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center. “That is simply unacceptable.”
To handle such urgent situations, the Guidance Center created the Fay J. Lindner Foundation Triage and Emergency Services, a program that promises to see these cases within 24 to 48 hours.
“From the moment we receive the call for help,” says Malekoff, “our goal is to stabilize, strengthen and support these children and families during this challenging time.”
The program, made possible by a generous grant from the Fay J. Lindner Foundation, offers rapid response to psychiatric emergencies— a sudden set of circumstances in which there is an impending risk of danger to the child or adolescent such as a risk of suicide or of physical harm to others. It also addresses situations that involve a state of seriously impaired judgment in which the child is endangered, and situations of risk to a defenseless victim involving abuse, neglect or exposure to domestic violence.
Through the program, our expert team of therapists helps the child or adolescent stabilize their mood, learn healthy coping skills and decrease the need for emergency room visits or in-patient hospitalizations.
“If parents can avoid bringing their child to the emergency room during a mental health crisis, that can prevent the child’s exposure to another potentially traumatic situation in the emergency room itself,” explains Malekoff. “Avoiding hospitalization during the pandemic is especially important.”
There has been a dramatic increase in psychiatric emergencies referred to the Guidance Center over the past several years due to a variety factors, including the difficulty in accessing inpatient hospitalization; the decline in availability of inpatient and day treatment beds for children and adolescents; the closing of many mental health clinics in Nassau County; and the escalation of prescription pill and heroin addiction among teenagers and young adults on Long Island.
“The Covid-19 crisis has also impacted our young people, with extremely heightened anxiety and depression levels,” says Malekoff. “Sadly, many have lost parents and other loved ones.”
The Guidance Center is very grateful to the Fay J. Lindner Foundation for its ongoing funding of this lifesaving program. As Lauren McGowan, the Guidance Center’s Director of Development, says, “The Foundation has been one of our most devoted supporters, and we look forward to creating new partnerships as the need for our services continues to grow.”To learn about other naming opportunities, contact McGowan at (516) 626-1971, ext. 320. For more information about our Fay J. Lindner Foundation Triage and Emergency Services and our other programs, please call us at (516) 626-1971.