After 13 years of consideration and planning, New York State has approved Upstate University Hospital’s plan for an inpatient psychiatric unit exclusively for teenagers. Syracuse.com reports that the eight-bed unit will be on the seventh floor of the main hospital in downtown Syracuse. The $3.2 million facility will treat patients between the ages of 12 and 17.
While there are 5,564 registered hospitals in the United States, not all of them have full inpatient psychiatric services. According to Syracuse.com, health professionals often transfer kids to facilities in Buffalo and Saratoga Springs, but this new unit will allow them to stay closer to home.
“This unit will keep children and their families together in our community while they receive care, but this is only the beginning as there is much work to be done in bringing additional mental health services to children to our region,” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, the chair of the psychiatry department at Upstate, said in a statement, according to Syracuse.com.
Previously, Four Winds, a private psychiatric hospital, provided 64 beds for youth in Syracuse. But that facility closed in 2004, according to Syracuse.com. This leaves just 30 beds at Hutchings Psychiatric Center. Now, there is hope for parents who seek mental health care in this region.
This new unit comes at a time when mental health is at the forefront of national discussion. The National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health found that 40% of workers say that their job is “very or extremely stressful.” And while stress can be a factor for the one in five adults who have a mental illness, this demographic is no longer the only group in concern.
In fact, about one in five adolescents has a diagnosable mental illness as well, with almost one third showing symptoms of depression. In a recent statement to Oregon Live, Dr. Ajit Jetmalani, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University, said that we are at a critical turning point for childhood mental health.
“I think we’ve reached a place where there’s a fork in the road: There could be movement around what’s best for kids based around obvious negative trend lines,” Jetmalani said. “I don’t think it’s going to come from a national level. It’s going to come from a local level.”
And with this new facility, Syracuse is doing exactly that.