New psychiatric center for children in New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Experts throughout the U.S. say they are seeing more and more children with behavioral issues, and now calls for more treatment are becoming common.

To get to the heart of the problem, doctors say mental health issues have to be treated as medical conditions.

Some are getting help at the newly renovated Children’s Psychiatric Inpatient services facility at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.

It all starts with putting the children and their families at ease, right at the front door.

When you walk into the Children’s Psychiatric Inpatient Services at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, you are greeted with a warm welcome sign.

The once drab and stark hallways are bright with vivid colors on the walls.

“I think the children as they come into an environment made for kids, don’t feel that its scary,” Medical Director Dr. Andres Martin said.

Outside, there is a new playground, dotted with concentric circles, now symbolizing an even deeper meaning.

“We hadn’t made that connection, said Dr. Martin, “that these ripples are really signifying in some way the ripples of change that we are talking about. Better recognition, less stigmatization and that a positive ripple in a child can have an enormous wave, a positive wave as that child becomes an adult.”

“Mental Illnesses in children are real,” Martin said. “They are common and more importantly, they are treatable.”

Children from five to 12 years old stay at the center, while getting the treatment they need.

Families like Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Smith like what they experienced here.

“They’ve been very open. They’ve been honest with the things that are going on,” Mrs. Smith said.

The family’s niece was admitted a few days ago.

Mr. Smith explained, “She started a fire, so that was concerning,” Mr. Smith said. “It was minor.”

“But before that there were other concerning behaviors,” Mrs. Smith added. “They were just getting progressively worse in a very short period of time.”

“We are definitely seeing more behavioral presentations across the board, not only aggression but depression, self injury,” Dr. Martin said.

Martin said the increase is mostly due to families shedding the shame, willing to get the treatment, as well as socio-economic pressures.

“Economic pressures, a lack of appropriate services, that have an impact on children and that can lead to the behavioral presentation,” he said.

A close relationship with staff has families like the Smiths thankful for the decision they made.

“We’ll have a toolbox of tricks and strategies to better help her and deal with the behaviors once she is out,” Mrs. Smith said.

There are 16 inpatient rooms available.

The recent expansion was made possible, mostly through private donations.

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