Children, adults need to be treated separately

Though now retired from the social work field, I worked for a number of years in a private treatment clinic addressing the needs of emotionally disturbed children and adolescents. The News is to be commended for publicizing the threatened closing of the WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center (CPC) as its coverage underscores the crucial public service that the facility provides. Likewise, area lawmakers, led by State Sen. Patrick Gallivan, deserve our gratitude for supporting the efforts of mental health advocates to prevent Gov. Andrew Cuomo from shutting down the West Seneca-based campus and moving its services and population into the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

As some readers may know, a similar effort was made over a dozen years ago when then Gov. George Pataki sought to pass an executive budget that closed CPC. Then, as now, treatment specialists and parent activists successfully enlisted the support of a broad array of state legislators and local officials to keep kids with kids and not house them in the same building with psychiatrically disturbed adults. The campus in West Seneca borders on a park equipped with slides and swings ideal for children’s play, while the facility, with its therapy centers and classrooms, gym and indoor pool, provides a child-friendly environment essential to healing and recovery.

Separate facilities such as CPC were established due to the professional recognition that emotionally disturbed children need to be treated therapeutically apart from adults. Cuomo is unable to provide any treatment rationale for his harmful proposal, while mental health professionals know it to be therapeutically unwise to mix the two populations. If Cuomo wants to make a positive impression in Western New York, he can start by backing away from his insistence on closing this excellent campus.

Margaret M. Roberts