Though masked, each child has eyes that sparkle brighter than ever
These continue to be confusing and sometimes disheartening days as we forge through the prolonged COVID crisis that continues to envelop our nation and the world. But everyday I am lifted by seeing more of our Family Services colleagues return to the work sites, resuming their presence in the offices and buildings gradually and safely.
In retrospect it is remarkable to think just how successful the efforts were to continue the vital work of the agency when we were, for the most part, completely working remotely! Our work was sustained remarkably well, with Family Services employees displaying great creativity, resilience and resolve. And now as we move toward a more “present” approach, similarly our employees continue to meet the continuing challenges of our time.
One shining example is the Summer Enrichment Program that is being offered (in-person) by our devoted Youth Services employees. Each day they help the kids to learn, have fun and socialize with their friends—all with a keen eye on health and safety. As I walk through the Family Partnership Center these days, I am thrilled to see all of the children back at the Center and enjoying the newly installed murals in our still shiny new gym (see below in “A Look Back”). Though masked, each child has eyes that sparkle brighter than ever.
There was quite a bit of necessary planning and safety considerations that came into play before and as this six week program was launched. But is has certainly been worth it for the children and their families, as well. It was particularly important as both the kids and families have been experiencing extraordinary challenges since the closure of schools in March.
I am hopeful that the children will have, in whatever form, the opportunity to experience the wonderful learning opportunities offered by the School Districts. We will be shoulder to shoulder with the schools in reinforcing that work and providing, however we can, the After School Programming the kids deserve.
In the meantime, I applaud our Youth Services employees lead by Stacey Greenberg, Dan Butler and Curtiz Simpson as they devote themselves to the good of the children in our community.
& Robin Peritz, Vice President of Behavioral Health
Every day we hear more about how the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic are impacting the behavioral health and mental well-being of people everywhere. Family Services has been providing licensed clinical behavioral health services in the Hudson Valley for more than 15 years, and has been on the front lines meeting our community needs these last four to five months helping our clients cope with these increased stressors. Fortunately, the emergency waivers to regulations for provision of health services has allowed us to provide these critical services safely for our staff and our clients through telehealth video conferencing as well as services via the telephone. There has been a wave of advocacy for permanent changes to the regulations, as the recognition of the benefits of providing services in these formats has become so clear. In fact, Family Services was recently highlighted in a white paper jointly developed by the New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare and the Community Health Care Association of New York State (click here to view the report). Our client survey results, with nearly 900 respondents, showed overwhelming support for continued use of telehealth/telephonic services post-pandemic. What it comes down to really is access! People must be able to get the services they need to cope with the stressors that are struggling with. Family Services is advocating for permanent regulatory relief and asks you to join us in this cause, and this is why it is so important…
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America. It is the second leading cause for those ages 25 to 34 and the third for ages 15 to 24. Mental health factors such as depression, anxiety, and addiction are major contributors to suicide attempts. There are also other important factors to consider in suicide prevention. One’s mental health is influenced by Social Determinants of Health (see chart below): economic stability, neighborhood and physical environment, education, food security, community and social context, and access to health care. These are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. Living with adverse conditions is associated with a higher risk of behavioral health disorders. Therefore, it is essential that not only behavioral health needs, but also the social determinants of health needs, be assessed. This practice can improve overall health and reduce disparities that are rooted in social and economic disadvantages.
What Can You Do to Help Prevent Suicide?
- Reduce the stigma by talking about it. All too often, people are afraid to bring up the subject of suicide or say the words, “Are you feeling suicidal?” for fear that they will be wrong or cause someone to act on it. In fact, people need and want to talk about how they are feeling, and it often helps them to know that they are not alone.
- Learn the warning signs and contributing factors.
• Increased use of drugs or alcohol
• Isolating from family and friends•
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing from daily activities
• Increased agitation or anger
• Trauma/abuse or neglect
• Increased depression, anxiety, or other mental health symptoms
• Family history of suicide
• Relationship stress, loss, or divorce
• Financial stress
• Loss of a job or home
We all can play a role in preventing suicide. If you are thinking about suicide or are worried about a friend or loved one, call or text the Dutchess County Helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 845-485-9700 or the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255. Family of Woodstock has a 24-hour hotline at 845-338-2370 or 845-679-2485. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911.
Family Services can help meet your behavioral health needs. We have centers in Dutchess County in Beacon, Dover Plains, Millbrook, Poughkeepsie, and Rhinebeck. In Ulster County, you can receive services in Ellenville, Kingston, and New Paltz. For appointments in Dutchess County, call 845-485-9700, and for appointments in Ulster County, call 845-486-2703 ext. 4016.
By the Numbers
50 Youth Participants
Youth from the City of Poughkeepsie School District are currently participating in our Summer Enrichment Program held Monday through Friday at the Family Partnership Center. The Summer Enrichment Program gives elementary youth an opportunity to come together for some summer fun and a variety of activities like academic enrichment, arts and crafts, and recreation.
Behavioral Health Centers: Innovation in Care
In March, in response to the emerging pandemic, our Behavioral Health programs mobilized to provide all services remotely. We learned quickly that we had unknowingly removed obstacles and barriers to our client’s treatment by providing telehealth services. Our clients, therapists, psychiatrists and nurse practitioners where able to continue meeting for their appointments without any gap in services. In fact, providing telehealth services resulted in a significant increase in kept appointments. We conducted a client satisfaction survey regarding our telehealth services with 850 responses and 90% of those surveyed reported feeling connected with their provider during their telehealth sessions and 80% felt that they have been able to make progress on their goals.
In June, Family Services received some funding from the WMCHealth PPS Transitioning Promising Practices Fund to facilitate the Care Connections Program in Dutchess and Ulster Counties. This program seeks to reduce emergency department utilization and inpatient admissions or re-admissions and connect clients to community-based organizations in order to address identified social determinants of health needs. Program staff will actively engage clients immediately upon discharge from an ER or inpatient psychiatric setting and assist in linking them to behavioral health providers, primary care providers and care managers. Making these connections at a time in which they are vulnerable, overwhelmed and have to navigate the maze of coordinating multiple appointments, transportation, picking up medications, or filling their cabinets with food can feel insurmountable. We also know that there is increased risk of suicide post hospitalization so providing outreach, quick access to care and linkages to important resources is vital. We are hopeful this program will make a positive impact on the health and safety of this very vulnerable population and improve their quality of care and life.
A Look Back
A Success Story In This Time of Crisis
Family Services has developed a free, ongoing virtual educational series available to staff and members of our community now on Zoom. Every Monday and Wednesday beginning at noon, our very own nonprofit professionals share their expertise on a variety of topics including: Current Drug Trends, Trauma Informed Environments, Diversity and Inclusion, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), and much more. To learn more about our upcoming trainings, or to view our past trainings, visit Family Services Educational Expedition.
Family Services’ 2019