Weekly Feature

2016-12-01 / Editorials

Closing CPC harms children’s mental health

Bee Editorial

Hope is not tangible. It is not bought or sold. It is felt, experienced and, worst of all, lost.

This week, supporters and advocates for the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center lost hope for the future following the announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that the center will close.

Three years have been spent tirelessly fighting for the center, and for the children whose lives are being saved by the treatments found within its walls.

Hours upon hours of testimony were presented, with both current and former patients, offering heart-wrenching personal stories of trauma and healing.

Professionals within the field of mental health have questioned the clinical logic of combining the treatment of children and adults in one facility: the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. Throughout all of this, the governor and commissioner of the state Office of Mental Health remained stone-faced and silent.

Neither has spent time with the parents of children as young as 4, or walked the halls of the center with former child patients who were given a second chance at life. They have not helped feed the deer, which romp outside the facility on the more than 200 acres of natural space, and they have not weathered a winter’s night with the supportive and loving staff who never leave their patients’ sides.

Those in Albany making decisions for children and families they have never met have not seen the beauty and tranquility of the campus in all seasons, visited the playground across the field, sat in one of the center’s classrooms, or shared a meal with them, as those in the children’s center do.

They have not read the messages on the walls, compared the size of their hands to the many handprints displayed there, or felt a wave of relief and uncertainty when stepping through the doors as a healed individual. And now, like the many hundreds of children and families with nowhere to turn, they never will.

The closing of the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center is not only a shortsighted, callous decision, it is a foolish one. It is the kind of decision that can alter the course of history for children in this state and serve as evidence of the true value of mental health treatment in our society.

For those who need help, this decision means that the state doesn’t care. They remain hopeless, because the governor has turned his back on society’s most vulnerable children. To oppose the decision, call Cuomo’s office at (518) 474-8390.

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