NAMI: CV gets grant for services

PLATTSBURGH - The Foundation of CVPH Medical Center is helping to continue one mission of National Alliance of Mental Illness: Champlain Valley.

The foundation recently announced it will award an $8,600 grant to fund voluntary mental health check-ups for students at Plattsburgh High School and Chazy Central Rural School as part of NAMI: CV's participation in the Columbia University TeenScreen program.

The program, said NAMI: CV Executive Director Amanda Bulris, helps teens and their parents by helping with early identification of mental health problems such as depression.

"Early identification is one of our key points," said Bulris. "If we can diagnosis students with depression or anxiety early on, that can lead to more serious disorders."

According to information provided by NAMI: CV, the two local high schools have helped screen more than 300 students over the past four-and-a-half years. Of that figure, approximately 9 percent of students screened have been referred for further evaluation.

"Students who have participated in the screenings seem to welcome the opportunity to talk about their anxieties, feelings and problems whether they have had a positive or negative screening result," Bulriss said. "They benefit from the TeenScreen by being able to discuss their concerns and to receive positive feedback about their emotional well-being."

The funding through the Foundation of CVPH will help further efforts by NAMI: CV by funding screenings at the two schools from July 1 through June 2012. NAMI: CV was facing a financial challenge as grant funding through Columbia University was depleted for the program.

"This program has obviously proven successful," said Foundation of CVPH Board President Mike Zurlo. "It's been a great tool in identifiying mental health issues such as depression in our teenagers for several years now. It would, quite frankly, have been a shame for this program not to continue."

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