Norwalk High’s Response To the Mental Health Crisis Among Teens
SEPTEMBER 22, 2022
According to the Surgeon General’s report, “Depressive and anxiety symptoms in youth doubled during the pandemic, with 25% of youth experiencing depressive symptoms and 20% experiencing anxiety symptoms.” (Person. (2022, April 5). In Connecticut alone 14.4% of adolescents aged 12-17 have reported a major depressive episode in the last four years, specifically spiking around the height of the pandemic. These numbers have not dropped since. With the installment of the Kids In Crisis program Norwalk High is providing confidential mental health assistance to its students.
Who is behind Kids in crisis?
Mr. Milton is the Kids in Crisis counselor here at Norwalk High school and has been working with kids in crisis for over 25 years. Before coming to the bears’ den, Mr. Milton worked at AITE, New Canaan High School, and Staples High School. His Intern Ashley Lopez is a Grad student at Sacred Heart University and is working towards her masters in social work. Both Mr. Milton and Ms. Lopez are dedicated to providing students with a safe space to talk about any mental struggles they are going through. I also had a chance to speak with Ellen Brezovsky, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) who is the director of outreach and community Initiatives for Kids In Crisis and the Program Director for the Teen Talk Program.
What Is Kids In Crisis?
So what is Kids in Crisis? Kids In Crisis was established 44 years ago as a shelter for youth. The Teen Talk program started in 1999, is Confidential, individual, and group family counseling covering all issues that are important to the health and well-being of young people. Here at Norwalk High our Kids in Crisis program, better known as “Teen Talk” is set to help students with family conflicts, those suffering from domestic violence, trauma, school stress, depression, anxiety, and those who need LGBTQ+ support. Teen Talk is present in over 14 schools within Fairfield County at both Middle and High Schools. Ellen Brezovsky, a program director for Teen Talk, told me, “Kids In Crisis is a non-profit organization that has been in existence since 1978. Today, Kids In Crisis provides temporary housing and comprehensive medical, educational and therapeutic support services for children of all ages in Fairfield County.”
It is the only Connecticut agency that can house children from newborn to age 18, of any gender, including a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ adolescents.
Mr. Milton describes Teen talk as, “an additional resource available to students AT the school but not BY the school.” While Teen Talk operates at Norwalk High, the counselors are guests in the school. Teen Talk counselors provide confidential support while working closely with our school. When asked about the confidentiality of Teen Talk a student said, “It doesn’t feel like you are just talking to another teacher who HAS to help you, it feels like the people I’m talking to want to hear me and I can have a real conversation with them.”
Help Available 24/7, 365 days a year
Kids In Crisis is available 24/7. Yes, even when school is not in session. There is a 24 hour helpline that you can call whenever and wherever you need. You will receive individualized attention from a qualified member of the staff and they will talk you through whatever you need or direct you to some in person help. It doesn’t end there! If for whatever reason you are feeling overwhelmed at home (or just need a break), Kids In Crisis offers a respite spot for teens. There is a house located in Greenwich, Connecticut where teens can temporarily stay and receive the extra help they need. An intake process must happen where goals and rules are established and you and your family must agree that this stay would be beneficial. “It really is a time for growth.” Says Mr. Milton about the Kids In Crisis home. During your stay the Kids in Crisis staff will drive you to and from school each day and all your basic needs will be met. The average stay is seven days, but Mr. Milton says that past students have stayed for longer or shorter than that. It is all based on need.
How to Reach Out
In the 2021-22 school year Mr. Milton worked with a total of 207 students, majority seeking help with anxiety, depression, academics, and family conflicts. Ellen Brezovsky thinks the most remarkable part about Teen Talk is the counselors. “They make connections with the students and help them through tough times. They are a support for students throughout the school day. The other great part about Teen Talk and Kids In Crisis is that once the school day ends, our 24 hour Helpline takes over for anyone, students, parents, families, who need assistance.” When asked about his favorite part of Kids In Crisis Mr. Milton said, “The students that are here want to be.. They are asking to be their best self.” If you, or anyone you know is looking for confidential mental health help please reach out to Mr. Milton. He can be reached by email :firstname.lastname@example.org , you can stop by room 218E, or call through extension 13279 / 203-838-4481 You can find Mr. Milton’s intern Ms. Lopez on Thursdays and Fridays in the Teen Talk room.
Remember to call the 24-hour Helpline whenever you may need it! 203-661-1911.