INFORMATION FOR FAMILIES IN SEARCH OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
If you are reading this page, you are probably one of the many families right now looking for mental health services for your child at time when demand is even higher than usual for the already-scarce resources the area has to offer. If you are like most parents, you are frustrated, angry, and most of all afraid for your child's well-being.
What is Going On?
We have a big supply and demand problem. COVID has caused the need for mental health services to go way up while the state-wide trend over the past several years was for these services to go down.
The number of inpatient beds for children in crisis has been going down. Several years ago, Cheshire Hospital's child inpatient unit closed. Last year, New Hampshire Hospital's child and adolescent units were closed. That leaves one hospital -- Hampstead -- to serve the needs of nearly 200,000 preteen and teens in the state. There are a few inpatient units in neighboring Massachusetts, but not nearly enough.
Meanwhile, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Association recently declared a state of emergency due to the impact of COVID on child mental health and lack of services. The effects of COVID, the quarantines, and the disruption of life over the past two years has hit the country's youth hard.
What is the State Doing About It?
It appears that the crisis has finally caught the attention of the public and New Hampshire lawmakers, and efforts are being made state-wide to attack the problem. Perhaps the most important initiative is the State's planned acquisition of Hampstead Hospital for the purpose of increasing the number of child and adolescent inpatient beds.
What is Direction Doing About It?
Direction is a small, independent program with limited resources, but we are doing our best to help.
We are hiring new staff and reopening our Partial Hospitalization Program to provide a higher level of care than even our Intensive Outpatient Program. We are working on increasing the content of our website to include more videos, a podcast, a blog, and other resources for struggling parents. While this content of course isn't a substitute for direct care, we hope it helps as part of a larger effort to educate the public about mental health problems and steps you can take to help in your own home. We have also contacted the Governor's office and have started a dialogue as to other ways we may be helpful in addressing the larger statewide crisis.
The volume of intake calls we are receiving is overwhelming at present. It should be noted that, in the past, demand for our services has gone up and down. There have been times in summer months where children have been able to get intakes the same week. There are other times our wait-list goes weeks out.
The problem is systemic: there are too few psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, therapists, inpatient hospitals, and outpatient programs that are skilled in treating adolescents. As you might have also guessed, a large part of the reason is that the funding and financial backing for such resources are insufficient. The ultimate fix to needs to be systemic, and a question of what priority we decide to give child mental health care services as a community, state, and country. If you have any interest or ability to become involved in finding solutions on the larger, systemic level, we urge you to do so. A good place to begin would be at NAMI of New Hampshire (naminh.org).
In the meantime, we understand that you have a more immediate problem. If your child is on the waiting list, or is waiting to be on the waiting list, we created this page to offer you at least something in the meantime.
While we are unable to provide your child direct care at present, we can offer to introduce you to our approach to problems facing the kids we see. We hope it may provide a starting point to better understanding of the nature of your child’s struggles, where medication might or might not fit in, and how we would suggest approaching the problem as a parent. At the very least, it will give you a window into how we do things at Direction. We certainly do things differently here, and it’s even possible after reviewing our approach you’ll decide to look elsewhere for help!
But, at least it’s a start, and it’s what we can offer at this time. We hope things change soon and we are able to get your child in and work with you directly.
If you are interested in learning about our in-depth approach to biological and developmental imbalances, we’d be happy to send you a free copy of our book, The Art of Direction. You can view it on Amazon here. If you’d like a copy, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Duncan and Victoria have started a Podcast called Is There a Med for That? in which they talk all about mental health and behavioral challenges for kids, big and small.
We are working on more content, including a second edition of our book The Art of Direction and multimedia resources addressing child and adolescent mental health as well as parenting challenges.