Health assessment surveys conducted over the past several years have identified behavioral health as one of the most needed services in Rutland County. The pandemic only amplified the demand for a focus on children and teens. For that reason, it’s important that we observe Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a national campaign to raise awareness about children and families struggling with emotional, behavioral or mental health challenges.
— Primary care providers and educators must consider mental health to be as important as physical health and learning problems.
— Mental health assessment and care needs to be integrated into children’s overall health care and education.
— Provide programs for parents, educators and health providers to learn the best ways to encourage healthy social, emotional and behavioral development.
— Encourage early identification of mental health problems in preschool, child care, K-12 education, child welfare, juvenile justice and substance use settings.
— Recognize and respond to the impact of traumatic stress on children, parents and caregivers.
As director of Behavioral Health at Community Health, I have seen firsthand the demand for behavioral health counseling, therapy and treatment for children. To meet this need, we have added providers and clinical services to pediatric primary care and three additional counselors specializing in pediatrics. Additionally, we’ve made social workers and counselors available at all our practices in Rutland and Addison counties.
In 2021, one of Community Health’s part-time pediatric psychiatrists became full-time, and we hired a psychiatric nurse practitioner to work directly with our pediatric providers. Along with the addition of these providers and services, we added telehealth visits to accommodate families and individuals in need.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Chelsea Greeno, PMHNP-BC, immediately saw the impact of COVID on children when she joined Community Health last summer. She observed changes in behavior and sleep habits, as well as the impact of isolation and the lack of social interaction.
This May, as we observe Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we encourage you to look for signs that your children might be struggling. Become more aware of the stress and trauma youngsters experience and the impact it has on families. Understand that you are not alone and the health care professionals at Community Health are here to help you and your family. Medical and behavioral health go hand in hand and it’s our mission to provide the information and education needed to maintain safe and healthy environments for children to thrive.
This week the Rutland Regional Medical Center Health Talk was provided by Christopher Chadwick, director of Behavior Health at Community Health.