This Saturday, October 10th, we will be observing World Mental Health Day, with the theme of “Dignity in Mental Health.” The World Health Organization is be raising awareness of what can be done to ensure that people with mental health conditions can continue to live with dignity, through human rights oriented policy and law, training of health professionals, respect for informed consent to treatment, inclusion in decision-making processes, and public information campaigns.
The BNI Elizabeth Lee Black School began serving children with mental health challenges and intellectual disabilities in the early 90s. We had identified the need for expanded psychiatric services as well as the addition of a mental health component in some of our classrooms. We applied and were approved for a license to serve 20 school-aged children with dual diagnoses of an intellectual disability as well as a mental health disorder.
This is a challenging population to serve, especially in the areas of coping skills and social skills. These students are often the most behaviorally and emotionally challenged, and have not succeeded in their home school district as a result.
Students enrolled in our Approved Private School participate in our Mental Health Partial Hospitalization program if their Individualized Education Plan indicates this level of need. In addition to their classroom program, the children receive psychiatric services, intensive ABA behavior support, and an extensive physical health and fitness program.
Over the years, the BNI has expanded services in the area of behavioral health for both children and adults. Some of the other services include:
- Blended Case Management – help to access resources in the community
- Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Services (BHRS) – change problem behaviors in the home, school & community
- Family Based & Structural Family Therapies – work to stabilize family environment and improve family communication and structure
- Childhood Trauma – treat behavioral problems relating to traumatic events, grief and loss
- Connections Camp – summer program for children/teens with high-functioning autism
- Social Skills Training – strategies for building social communication skills
To meet the ever-increasing need for mental and behavioral health services, the BNI is planning to open an outpatient clinic, Barber Behavioral Health Institute, in the Spring of 2016. We are excited for this venture, and hope that it will meet the needs for so many more in our community.