Rochester Regional's Children and Adolescent Services focuses on ages 5 to 18, and currently accepts patients Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. No appointments are necessary, and walk-ins are encouraged. Parents or guardians can call 922-7270 to access support and talk with a therapist.
Children who are facing changes in school performance, mood, sleeping, eating habits or family life, along with more serious issues like drug abuse, are welcome to walk in for immediate attention.
Rochester Regional also recently launched a partnership with Monroe County schools, which places therapists directly onsite for mental health services and support. This program is currently working with six school districts and has more than 20 satellite offices throughout - Greece, Brockport, Hilton, Webster, Gates-Chili and East Rochester - with plans to expand. We also have an important partnership with the Rochester City School District, providing school-based physical and mental health needs at Edison High School, Leadership Academy for Young Men, School 9, School 33, School 25 and School 52.
William Pearson is an LCSW and the Program Coordinator of the offsite, school-based programs, and has spent more than 30 years in various behavioral health roles
“I believe you don’t know the kids unless you see the kids outside the office,” he says. “Nine out of 10 times we’re dealing with kids who have issues with school. For many who come to a clinic for therapy during the school day, they’re not going to return to school that day. It’s a program that’s designed to meet the kids where they’re at - we’ve eliminated barriers around transportation, missing work or needing a sitter for other children. It has opened lines that are needed for communication between schools, families and therapists to support the child.
Essentially, the program provides outpatient mental health services in school so the students can focus on academics and their mental health simultaneously. After a child has been identified as a possible participant, they work with Rochester Regional to get the right services in place.
“There’s such a need right now for emotional support and wellness, it’s unbelievable. Trauma and stress fatigue is a big piece of life right now for our kids, kids are in survival mode, and that goes against learning mode,” says Pearson. “Right now, every offsite patient spot is full. We have a waiting list, and we’re bringing on more staff.”
Tharaha Thavakumar, a Senior Primary Therapist with Rochester Regional Health, says this is a preferable option for children facing a behavioral crisis, as she and her colleagues are trained for those situations.
“If the child is escalated, it's important to get them in a safe spot where they can't do harm to themselves or to somebody else,” says Thavakumar. “The biggest thing is to understand that the child is in trauma and that they are in a fight-or-flight mindset, especially if they are upset or escalated. It's important to take that into consideration and to do trauma-informed care--giving them space, building that trust, listening to them, understanding what they're saying, and repeating how they're feeling … acknowledging that you know they're scared and frustrated is huge."
"Everybody is under trauma right now,” says Thavakumar. “Without understanding trauma-informed care, it's really difficult in those situations to know how to respond."
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