Helping adolescents with mental health issues is one of the biggest challenges in pediatric healthcare today.
Akron Children’s has made great strides in serving families in crisis through its psychiatric intake response center (PIRC) and partial hospitalization program (PHP), and these programs have now been recognized with the 2014 Impact Award from the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation.
The 5th annual Morgan Impact Awards, honoring individuals and organizations making an impact in areas of mental health, education and the arts, were presented Nov. 20 at the Northeast Ohio Medical University Education and Wellness Center.
The evening began with a welcome from Rick Kellar, president of the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, who noted that the people and programs being honored “exemplified care, concern and conscientious support of others.”
Akron Children’s mental health team leadership was honored with the Award for Mental Health, citing the 2 programs in particular.
PIRC is a mental health referral service that links families to behavioral health services in Summit County and beyond. It’s staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by licensed independent social workers and professional clinical counselors who are trained to assess a child’s mental, emotional and behavioral healthcare needs.
Families seeking answers or services for their child or teen will receive a preliminary screening over the phone to determine the appropriate type and level of care needed. Those considered high risk may be referred for a face-to-face assessment in the Akron Children’s Behavioral Health Emergency Services, located within its ER.
“Families coming to emergency department are very scared, often angry. They have a sense of being alone and that no one is listening,” said Bob Emmer, a mental health therapist for PIRC.
Dr. Pat Seifert, PIRC director, said the behavioral health unit is designed to give families a sense of peace and healing.
“The rooms are especially designed to convey a safe, non-threatening environment that is much more conducive to the presentation of problems,” she said. “Our team is just a remarkable group of people who know they are providing a very sorely needed service to the community and helping families through some very challenging situations.”
PHP, which offers intensive psychiatric services to teens ages 13-18 in an outpatient setting, was also honored by the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation.
“Our program is designed to keep teens in the community, out of psychiatric inpatient hospitalization, and/or transition them from an inpatient unit back home,” said Doug Straight, PHP manager. “We focus on short-term stabilization for at-risk teens.”
Programming is evidenced based and provides skills training to increase awareness of thoughts, feelings and behaviors to enable teens to make healthier commitments and choices for themselves.
Family involvement is an essential component. Family therapy and education is provided as a core element in each program. The teen and family participate in the individual treatment plan, which is reviewed continually.
“Word of mouth about these programs has spread,” said Georgette Constantinou, administrative director of Pediatric Psychology and Psychiatry. “Families know if they come, we are here and we’re going to help them. I would put Akron Children’s on par with any hospital in the country in terms of the spectrum of care deliver.”
Also honored with 2014 Impact Awards were:
- Adam Sheldon and Justin Caithaml: The Baldwin-Wallace students received the Award for Education for their academic enhancement program, “Shaping Music and Reading Together (SMART).
- The Akron Art Museum: The museum’s “Live Creative” program received the Award for Imagination.
- The Summit: The public radio station received the Award for Innovation.
- Clara Rankin: The arts benefactor and advocate for individuals dealing with mental health issues received the Founder’s Award.