Mental Health: Bridging the Gap
According to the CDC (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention), 1 in 6 U.S. children aged 2–8 years (17.4%) had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.
To help parents feel more informed, Children’s of Alabama teamed up with Anne B. LaRussa Foundation for Hope to provide a resource called Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC). Navigating the mental health care system is challenging for patients, families, and providers. A new resource-based at Children’s of Alabama helps to bridge this gap for parents. The Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC) is a collaboration between Children’s of Alabama and the Anne B. LaRussa Foundation for Hope.
PIRC Director Cindy Jones says, “PIRC provides resources to any adult caller, and we have more than 1,300 resources in the state of Alabama.”The PIRC is only one of three of its kind in the country. When a parent has concerns about their child, they are able to call PIRC confidentially. Licensed mental health clinicians trained to assess a child or teen’s emotional and behavioral needs answer the calls. “If someone calls the PIRC, we are able to briefly assess the situation and point them in the direction of resources in the community,” Jones says. PIRC does not provide over the phone diagnosis.
Watch for signs of mental distress:
- Isolating themselves
- Changes in eating habits
- Weight changes
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Mood swings
Children and teens shouldn’t suffer alone. There are hundreds of resources available in the state of Alabama to help families navigate through difficult situations and offer them support. The Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC), located in the Emergency Department at Children’s of Alabama, is a confidential psychiatric response center designed to assist patients, their loved ones and/or caregivers, and community providers in finding the appropriate level of mental health care. These services are provided via telephone or in-person by licensed mental health clinicians trained to assess a child’s or teen’s mental, emotional, and behavioral needs, and recommend the best treatment options.
PIRC is open seven days a week, year-round from 8 a.m.to 11 p.m. Any adult with a mental health question or concern regarding a child or adolescent is encouraged to contact the PIRC at 205-638-PIRC (7472). In the event of a crisis situation, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.