Behavioral Health

Bringing Mental Health Care to Children & Families

Scheduling medical or mental health care for children can be challenging. Two programs through Rochester Regional Health offer to meet young patients and their families where they are.

May. 9, 2023 5   min read

A young Black male teenager talks with a Black female therapist

Bringing care to where children already spend most of their time can make a huge difference in their mental and physical health. Recent research shows providing access to high-quality, professional care and help are critical now more than ever.

Nearly half of all U.S. teenagers have had a mental health disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Eve Hosford, LCSW-R, serves as Senior Director of Clinical Excellence and Children’s Mental Health for Rochester Regional Health and opens the door to the services available through our school-based health centers and community & youth behavioral health.

School-based health centers

Within the City of Rochester, several school-based health centers offer a safe and comfortable environment for students to have high-quality medical and mental health care – right at school.

Each center is staffed by Rochester Regional Health medical and mental health professionals who provide a variety of health services, including case management, immunizations, mental health evaluations and ongoing treatment, nutrition education, physical examinations, and primary health care.

In a practical way, using these centers helps parents avoid missing work if their child needs a quick medical appointment that would otherwise require taking them out of school. For students who need access to a therapist or counselor, these centers decrease stigma around mental health treatment. If a student goes to visit the nurse’s office in their school, they are not drawing attention to themselves by going to their therapist’s office.

Walk-in and scheduled appointments are available at each school-based health centers. Roughly 3,500 students receive care at the five locations within the Rochester City School District:

Edison High School
655 Colfax St.
Rochester, NY 14606

Northeast College Preparatory High School at the Charlotte Campus
4115 Lake Ave.
Rochester, NY 14612

John James Audubon School #33
500 Webster Ave.
Rochester, NY 14609

Freddie Thomas Learning Center
625 Scio St.
Rochester, NY 14605

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School #9
485 North Clinton Ave.
Rochester, NY 14605

“Our school-based health centers always have the capacity to see more students,” Hosford said. “We open the doors to these centers with the hope of educating students, their families, and our communities about their benefits available to them.”

Students and their families do not pay directly for the care received at school-based health centers. The family’s health insurance, along with federal grants and support from Rochester Regional Health and the New York State Health Department, cover the cost of care.

Families can enroll their child in a school-based health center using an online form.

Community Youth Behavioral Health

Young people are in need of emotional and mental health support. Recent research shows rates of anxiety and depression among young people continue to rise following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched in 2018, the Community Youth Behavioral Health program brings together experienced therapists, child psychiatrists, and psychiatric nurse practitioners to help students where they are at – in school and at community centers.

“Our guiding principles are about being where people are when they need us, and being available when they need us,” Hosford said.

Students can approach any provider in a school setting or be referred by a trusted adult within the school such as a teacher, counselor, or administrator. The district will then let the student’s family know about the referral and obtain their permission before the student begins meeting with a provider.

Once a student’s parent or caregiver approves, a student can receive several types of care, including individual therapy, family therapy, and/or medication evaluation and management.

Through our Community Youth Behavioral Health program, schools are able to work with our providers to offer support and services to students in more than 50 locations, including Brockport, East Rochester, Gates Chili, Geneseo, Greece, Hilton, Spencerport, Victor, Webster, and West Irondequoit. Plans are underway to expand further within these districts.

Care provided through the Community Youth Behavioral Health program is billed directly to a family’s health insurance.

In every school district, there are students who face barriers to high-quality mental health care, such as financial constraints, lack of transportation or health insurance, or therapists who are unavailable. Being present in our children’s schools brings them the exceptional mental health care they need.

 “If we can create an open environment in which we continuously engage with students, their parents, and their schools with the goal of proactively addressing mental health concerns, our providers will be doing exactly what they set out to do through this program,” Hosford said.

NEXT STEPS Behavioral Health Services for Youth & Family

At Rochester Regional Health, our evidence-based therapeutic interventions encourage the development of coping strategies and problem-solving skills, as well as improved socialization skills, and open communication.

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