Weekly Feature

2015-06-04 / Editorial

Let children heal in West Seneca Psychiatric Center

Bee Editorial

A hearing held at Buffalo City Hall Friday brought to light stories of hurt and healing, desperation and hope as patients and advocates spoke about their experiences with the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center.

Tears were shed by many during the testimonies detailing the angst to be found in the state’s mental health system.

Through this experience, the community pushed to be heard by the state in regard to a plan to close the Children’s Center and move the patients into the Buffalo Psychiatric Center where they would be in the same building as adults.

Commissioner Ann Marie Sullivan gave a statement during the hearing, claiming that the move was not about money but about offering more for children who are struggling with mental illness. She claimed that moving the children would allow more money to be available to extend the services being offered to them, and placing them in an urban setting would provide more opportunities.

After listening to the testimonies of children and their families who have fought through mental illness and found refuge in the calm, spacious, natural setting of the Children's Center, it is questionable whether a move would truly be in the best interest of the children.

Children are only hospitalized because their illness has caused them to be unsafe in a traditional environment, as pointed out by a mental health professional whose sister had been hospitalized at the Children’s Center.

Each advocate brought up the healing properties found in nature. The facility, located in West Seneca, allows children to leave the confines of their living space without risk of danger. They can play and experience the world beyond their own troubles.

A city setting would not offer this same freedom.

Parents who spoke at the hearing expressed fear for their children if they were hospitalized in the city. Within close proximity of public transportation, they could disappear easily if they chose to leave. They spoke of the reassurance they felt when their children were finally admitted to the Children’s Center, with its many acres of seclusion, knowing they would be safe until the following day.

A city facility could not offer this reassurance.

The negative aspects seem to outweigh the positive when placing children in a city center where they would be housed with adults, rather than let them be and continue to heal.

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