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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Ellis in Schenectady Launches Groundbreaking Mental Health Facility for Adolescents


SCHENECTADY — A beacon of hope has ‍been lit in the heart of Schenectady for adolescents grappling with mental health issues. The Family Room, a​ new initiative by Ellis Medicine’s State Street facility, is now open ⁣and ready to provide a safe and welcoming environment for these young individuals.

The Family Room is ⁤an extension of The Living Room, a walk-in ​mental health service for adults that was⁣ established ⁢in 2018. The Living Room caters to adults aged 18 and above, while The Family Room is designed to serve adolescents aged 10 to 17, offering similar ⁣services at⁣ the State Street health center.

“Our goal is to create a space that functions like an urgent care center for mental health,” said Paul Milton, Ellis Medicine President & CEO, on ‍Tuesday. “We ​aim to serve young people who are on the brink of ⁣a mental health crisis. They can simply ⁣walk in, no appointments necessary. We want to provide an alternative ⁣to the emergency room and create a warm, welcoming place where they can receive care.”

The‌ program, which is free of charge, allows adolescents to walk into the Mark and Terri Little Health⁢ Center at 1023 ‍State ‍St. and receive mental health care⁤ in a soothing, homely environment. Each child will be assessed by a‌ clinician to determine if they require medical attention.

The Living Room was made possible by a ‍generous $712,560 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

The Family ‌Room is also ‌cost-free for all adolescents ‍who use its services. Milton explained that the project was made possible through philanthropy, ⁣with‍ the operational costs funded by the Mother Cabrini grant and Ellis Medicine.

“If you come in here, we’re not going to charge you,” Milton said. “We are committed to taking​ care of people in the city.”

The adolescent program is the first of its kind ⁢in the state, with the Ellis staff identifying a need for outpatient mental health care for young adults.

“I believe this resource is going to be a tremendous asset for our community,” said Ashley Norcross, Clinical Director of Mental Health Services and Social Services at Ellis Medicine, on Tuesday. “Mental health resources are often scarce, with long waitlists and insufficient support for‌ children and‍ adolescents. This ‍additional resource for families ⁤and adolescents will be a great benefit to help support ‍youth ​and connect them with the services they need.”

Norcross revealed that‌ 98% of patients who have utilized the Living Room program⁢ since 2018 have not required a subsequent hospital visit.

“We’re really hoping to replicate that,” Norcross said of the ⁤new Family Room facility.

Norcross highlighted that over 500 children and adolescents experiencing mental issues visit the Ellis Hospital⁤ emergency room each year, with the Family Room program providing a much-needed alternative for adolescents.

Dr. David Sturman, chair ⁢of the department of psychiatry at Ellis, ⁣emphasized that adolescents face unique mental⁢ health challenges that the new Ellis facility can help‌ address.

“Nearly one in three adolescents will experience an anxiety⁤ disorder prior to reaching adulthood,” Sturman said Tuesday. “Even those without a clinical diagnosis, our young ‍people are facing significant challenges and may be ill-equipped to effectively cope and adapt to the storm and stress of growing up.”

The former State Street Health Center was renamed as the Mark and Terri Little ⁤Health Center on Tuesday in⁢ honor of the pair of Schenectady philanthropists.

The‌ Family Room provides a space for patients’ family members to participate in the program, with adolescents given access to counseling and social support. An⁢ adolescent does not need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to utilize the ‍Family Room,⁢ but ‌parents may⁢ be contacted following the visit to help ‍address the mental health issues the adolescent is experiencing.

“There’s folks from the ⁢(state) Office of​ Mental Health here today and I think they’ll ‍come and learn about it and they’ll spread the word ‍with ⁣other organizations that want ⁢to try something and be innovative in mental health,” Milton ​said.

Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton, a skillful journalist previously based in Boston, is adept at covering a diverse array of stories. Her thorough and engaging reporting style, honed with a Master's in Journalism from Boston University, focuses on community-relevant stories.
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