The New York Foundling, a community-based organization that focuses on child welfare, development and education, is emphasizing the importance of their school-based student mental healthcare services.
While cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant are trending downwards, Reïna Batrony, vice president of The New York Foundling’s services for community and school-based programs stressed how continuing to support students and young people will only serve to further empower communities.
“The New York Foundling has been operating for over 152 years now and our focus in terms of delivery of service has been on five major areas,” said Batrony to amNew York in an interview. “We have educational services, child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health and developmental disability. Our belief is that every individual can reach their full potential and we believe in the ability and the power of what each individual brings to the context of their community.”
THe New York Foundling provides a plethora of services, but Batrony highlighted just how important access to mental health care is for students and young children – especially with the ongoing pandemic. According to a report by the American Psychological Association, young children especially are suffering. Before the pandemic about one in five children were reported to be suffering from mental health disorders, whereas now about one-third of students are struggling.
The Foundling aims to change that with their implementation of on campus or in school mental health counselors available for students and their families at any time, as well as virtual support.
“As [we] know with the pandemic a lot of people had to quickly adapt and adjust, so mental health services are one of the top [priorities], and we provide that in different opportunities,” Batrony said. “Whether it is preventative services at some of our school-based mental health services or some of our specialized evidence based models, all mainly provided within the community and with the families and with the pandemic we have had to shift pretty quickly and because of our technology and innovative approach, we were already ready and had the capacity to support with telehealth.”
While these services are available to all students throughout all five boroughs, it can sometimes be difficult – especially for younger students – to reach out and advocate for their own mental health. The New York Foundling can provide assistance, but it is also up to school leaders to ensure the mental health and safety of their students is a priority as well.
“I know that with students who are younger, they have to ask for help and it’s the culture within the schools – so the ability to trust their guidance counselors and their principals and have that fluidity of communication,” said Batrony. “I think asking from home also can sometimes be challenging depending on [potential] cultural barriers, but really tapping into those different relationships that they may have in school whether with a teacher or guidance counselor or even a friend who may be receiving some services can help with the stigma [of asking for help].”
Currently, The New York Foundling offers school-based mental health services with its partner schools – which include some on-site mental health clinics at some campuses – and focuses on identifying and addressing the needs of high and moderate risk mental health issues in schools. The Foundling employs trained mental healthcare practitioners to have ongoing reviews and check-ins with students who exhibit signs of mental health struggles and work with the individual student and their family in order to get them back on track and back learning.
“Because we provide such a wide range of services – and all of our services are holistically fit to help support individuals and families in the community – we continue to see the same demand for all of our services,” said Batrony. “We pride ourselves in the ability of just being responsive to the needs of the community.”
Last updated 2/8/2022 9:13 am