The South Huntington School District is partnering with Northwell Health to offer students who need urgent mental health care an alternative to a visit to a hospital Emergency Room. This unique program allows students in crisis to seek prompt help at the Northwell Health Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center in Commack instead of going to the ER. In cases of urgent need, a student can be seen the very same day the student, a parent, or school professional reaches out for help. South Huntington is one of only six districts in Suffolk to offer this important service to the community.
“We are excited to have engaged in this partnership with Northwell Health which will give us vital added measures in assisting our students in crisis,” said Superintendent Vito D’Elia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 3 high school students had experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019. That’s a 40 percent increase since 2009. In that same time period, there was a 44% increase in the number of young people who said they had made a suicide plan. And the CDC says poor mental health continues to be a growing trend for adolescents. In addition, the psychological effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, added to an existing shortage of mental health professionals, has made it difficult to find timely help.
“The goals of the visit are to provide urgent access to a child psychiatrist and the crisis counselors, provide assessment, stabilization, and provide short term crisis care,” said Dr. Vera Feuer, director of emergency psychiatry and behavioral health urgent care at Northwell Health’s Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park.
Students can contact the Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center directly or a school professional can refer them after a parent or teacher reaches out with concerns.
Those concerns include:
- Suicidal thoughts, comments, safety concerns
- Suicidal or self-injurious behavior recently or in the past, but NONE REQUIRING MEDICAL ATTENTION CURRENTLY (go to the emergency room for medical care)
- Acute anxiety/refusal to attend school
- Significant behavioral disturbances
- Significant mood disturbances affecting functioning
The Northwell Health Behavioral Health Center is located in Commack at 2171 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 345. It is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The center’s phone number is 631-775-3280. Their email address is COMBH@northwell.edu. Northwell Health says the center is designed to be a warm and welcoming environment that is not threatening, and seeks to decrease the stigma often associated with mental health care.
The services provided at the center are available for public and non-public students who are residents of South Huntington.
“South Huntington’s partnership with Northwell Health is timely and necessary, especially as we continue our focused work on academics and social-emotional wellness. Our district is fortunate to have comprehensive pupil personnel teams at each building to intervene and respond to students with varying social, emotional, and behavioral needs; this partnership will complement and enhance our existing continuum of mental health services through a coordinated care approach,” said April Propilo, South Huntington’s Assistant Superintendent of Student Services.
Health insurance is billed and there is a copay for families who have coverage, but uninsured students will not be denied care. The center is prepared to evaluate and treat students who speak foreign languages, and medical intake forms are available in both English and Spanish.