December 9, 2022
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Via Christi program aims to help teen mental health

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — This time of year, with kids getting out of school, some say a crisis can be on the rise. Since the pandemic began, COMCARE said it’s seen a 225% increase in teens seeking screening and needing hospitalization for mental health reasons. That large spike impacts emergency rooms across Kansas.

It’s been called a mental health crisis, and the largest spike of people who are affected are teenagers. In the month of May, there is also an increase of teens needing help as summer starts. But the behavioral health social work manager at Ascension Via Christi said there are treatments available in the community.

With the online world, COVID-19 and the challenges teens already face, the director of quality at COMCARE said it’s seen some hard years for teens.

“If somebody comes in and needs hospitalization, we direct them towards hospitalization if there’s not a bed available typically what happens is they wait in the ER until a bed opens up and then they are continually assessed for hospitalization,” said Michelle Calvert, the director of Quality and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) at Comcare.

“They’re at a developmental stage where they’re still trying to get to know themselves and then also taking in the feedback they’re receiving from their peers,” said Shi-Metria Slaughter, The Behavioral Health Social Work Manager with Ascension Via Christi.

When needing help in a mental health crisis Slaughter said there is help at every hospital.

“All hospitals, I know each campus has their specialty programs and areas but just be mindful that each campus or each hospital is going to be equipped with behavioral health or individuals who are licensed providers,” said Slaughter.

Slaughter also said for anyone 12 years or older who doesn’t qualify for hospitalization, there is a program that can help navigate their mental health.

“It’s up to 2 weeks, sometimes longer based upon individual need, and it is intensive therapy Monday through Friday for 6 hours a day, and it’s a very unique program because you’re getting that additional support that’s needed right when you need it,” said Slaughter.

Right now, the program at Ascension Via Christi is able to enroll patients either the same day or the next and has the capacity for up to 64 people seeking help.

“Utilizing those outpatient services will help reduce the crisis situations that could occur, but it also helps ensure that individual is equipped with the tools needed so not if — but when a crisis does occur they know how to navigate it in a healthy way,” said Slaughter.

Slaughter said parents should make sure to check in on their children and be mindful if they see a change in their behavior. This program is available even for those who are not insured.

To learn more information about the program, click here.



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