Here is another in our series of articles about things going on around Rochester.
The Greater Rochester Health Foundation recently announced that it has organized a Commission on Children’s Behavioral Health in order to address mental health needs among children and teens in and around the Rochester area.
As stated in the Rochester Business Journal, the commission will be led by Michael Scharf, M.D., the chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and the project is estimated to cost around $300,000 (to be funded by the GRHF).
The Democrat and Chronicle explains that the initiative will look at the types of mental health services that are available for pediatric patients across the nine counties in the Rochester area. It will also look at where the services are located, and how many children are possibly being turned away from receiving psychiatric help simply because the providers cannot accommodate so many patients.
According to Scharf, the URMC has been conducting research prior to the formation of the commission, and this data will help the new commission to examine the most pressing mental health needs of children and adolescents on a county-by-county basis.
Although many assume that overcrowded hospitals and long ER wait times are caused by so many uninsured patients seeking medical treatment, it’s clear that a lack of mental health services — for both adults and children — also contributes to the 110 million emergency room visits per year.
According to data from the GRHF, an estimated one out of every five children experiences a mental or behavioral health problem, but only 20% of those affected actually receive treatment. In many cases, parents simply don”t know where to go for help.
“Right now there is youth in our emergency room [for psychiatric needs],” Scharf said at a recent press conference. “I can also guarantee you by the time I go back to my office, I’ll have at least two voicemails from families who have called me trying to get care for their kids.”