Mental Health Teams Serve As Gap To Stabilize At-Risk Youth


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The growing number of children and teens exposed to traumatic events in everyday life has forced the state’s crisis intervention teams to respond to a broader range of behavioral and mental health issues, and those teams often serve as a bridge until at-risk youth find appropriate outpatient or inpatient services.
Sixty-four percent of Connecticut’s youth who use Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services (EMPS), the state’s mobile crisis intervention team, have experienced one or more traumatic incidents, such as domestic violence, cyber-bullying, physical assaults, or gang warfare, experts report.
Research shows childhood exposure to violence, physical or sexual abuse, and other traumatic events can cause chronic health and behavioral health problems, and such exposure is associated with increased involvement with the child welfare and criminal justice systems.
“The number of children who have been exposed to trauma is a significant concern. It’s a common occurrence among young people,” said Jeffrey Vanderploeg, vice president for mental health initiatives for the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut (CHDI). He is director of the EMPS Performance Improvement Center, which is housed at CHDI.
Expanded Role For Crisis Intervention
EMPS is a crisis intervention program with a statewide network of about 150 mobile mental health professionals who assist children up to age 18 with with behavioral or mental health emergencies. When a call is placed to 2-1-1 from any Connecticut town, clinicians respond within 45 minutes, either by telephone or at a face-to-face crisis assessment and intervention at home, at school or in the community. They can remain involved for up to 45 days, creating care plans, coordinating services and following up.
Last fiscal year, EMPS provided 12,376 instances of care – up 11.4 percent from the previous fiscal year – and some worry that demand will soon exceed the program’s capacity.
State lawmakers are currently considering future funding for EMPS and other mental health initiatives.  In October, Gov. Dannel Malloy issued an “action plan” for children’s behavioral health that called for using $160,000 to post a full-time EMPS crisis-intervention worker in the emergency department of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and a part-time worker in another hospital. The plan also said the governor was “considering” enhancing…

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On May 7, C-HIT will host a community forum on teen mental health at The Lyceum, 227 Lawrence St., in Hartford. The event, which features an expert panel, is being held in collaboration with ConnectiCare and Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living. is a media sponsor of the event.