Belmont Behavioral Health (BBH) is the largest and most innvoative behavioral health system in the region, offering an integrated network of behavioral health services for children, adolescents, adults and older adults. BBH spans the full continuum of care by providing emergency, crisis intervention, outpatient, intensive outpatient, partial hospital, inpatient and long-term independent living services and programs in locations throughout Philadelphia.
BBH is known for the quality of all of its programs, especially some of its highly specialized programs including eating disorders and mood disorders treatment; a broad range of geriatric services, including treatment of older adults with dual diagnosis of substance abuse with a psychiatric diagnosis such as depression; Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), a treatment for severe, medication-resistant depression; and specialized outpatient treatment services for those with borderline personality disorder. With a strong commitment to education, BBH plays a vital role in training psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, pharmacists, and others.
The largest of the three major campuses is at Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment, a freestanding 147-bed hospital, offering a full array of inpatient and outpatient services for children, adolescents, adults and older adults.
Sometimes, even when all the factors needed for a nurturing educational environment are there - dynamic teachers, challenging curricula, caring parents - an unexpected crisis, sudden trauma or ongoing pressures can change a student's behavior, putting his or her education at risk. With so much at stake, Einstein's Belmont Behavioral Health School-Based Programs are critically important for struggling students who need extra support to achieve their fullest potential.
"So many students today have to cope with problems far beyond what they can handle," says Dr. Jilla Carpey, Director, School-Based Social Services (SBSS."When that happens, it can cause social and behavioral changes that threaten their ability and even their interest in learning. Our goal is to get to the root of the problem and connect them with the resources they need to help them get back on track."
According to the Surgeon General's Report on Behavioral Health, it is estimated that one in five children will experience a significant behavioral health problem during his or her school age years. However, it is also estimated that 70% of children who need behavioral healthcare, do not receive it. Behavioral health does not just mean having an illness, according to the National Mental Health and Education Center, it means having the skills and abilities necessary to handle challenges in life. Behavioral health advocates have emphasized that behavioral health is just as important as physical health in its impact on development and learning.
Through a competitive grant from the School District of Philadelphia, the School-Based Social Services program places 11 clinicians from Belmont Behvioral Health (BBH) in 28 schools throughout lower Northeast Philadelphia. The School-Based Social Services program is the most recent program BBH has developed for the School District.
"Often, a parent sees that their child is struggling, but is overwhelmed or doesn't know where to turn for help."
- Jilla Carpey, PhD
(L to R) Patricia Epps, Principal of Edwin Forrest Elementary School
meets with Director of School-Based Social Services, Jilla Carpey, PhD
Students who are exhibiting behavioral issues are referred to the program by a teacher, nurse or school counselor.
"There are so many factors that could be present," explains Dr. Carpey. "Sometimes, there are behavioral health issues such as undiagnosed depression or anxiety, which frequently occurs amoung teens. Other times, students are struggling with violence in the neighborhood or in their family. There may be familiy turmoil from a parent losing their job, or bullying and peer pressure. There are so many possible reasons why a student's behavior in school changes, and often the situation exceeds the school's capacity to deal with it."
After a student is referred to the program, a Belmont clinician contacts the parents to let them know their child is having trouble and to invite their participation in resolving the situation.
"Often, a parent sees that their child is struggling, but is overwhelmed or doesn't know where to turn for help," explains Dr. Carpey. "By engaging the parent we are better able to fully understand the student's situation and together we can wrap a support net around the student."
The Belmont clinician will make an assessment of the student's needs and then work with the student and his or her family to connect them with the appropriate resources, serving as case managers throughout the process. They will also provide school-based counseling, follow-up support, student support groups coordination, and consultation with school staff and the student's caregivers.
Belmont Behavioral Health Clinician Janis
Wearing, MSW works with a student in a classroom
at Edwin Forrest Elementary School
Studies have shown that when students receive behavioral health initiatives that
include social and emotional support and
decision-making skills, there is a direct
effect on school achievement.
It has also been found that providing behavioral health support for students and their families through the school system is ideal in that it is a familiar setting for both children and their families, and it facilitates communication between all those involved (parents, teachers, counselors) in promoting the success of the student.
On occasion, BBH clinicians have been requested to be part of a school's crisis intervention team.
"We have been called in a number of times to be a resource during situations of school violence or the violent death of a student's family member," explains Dr. Carpey. "Although those situations aren't typical, the fact that the school disctrict calls on our staff does speak to the important role we play in the community and to the need for our services."
For every cohort of 18-year-olds who do not finish high school, it is estimated that the United States loses $192 billion dollars in income and tax revenue. Early school based behavioral health interventions, such as those offered by BBH's School-Based Social Services, are clearly a good investment in the future of America.