New York State does not have a full-time psychiatrist charged with overseeing the treatment of the 800 or so young people who are detained in state facilities, reports the New York Times. Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson, administrative judge of the New York City Family Courts is critical, saying, “When we place these children in these facilities, we expect their needs to be met, especially their mental health needs.” There are 17 psychiatrists on contract, but they work part time, and weeks often pass between their visits with each troubled youth. Officials say the doctors’ turnover rate is very high.
Gladys Carrión, commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services, will hire a “chief psychiatrist,” who will work on salary or on contract. Oversight of the mental health treatment of the young people in state facilities falls to several dozen psychologists who visit them for consultations, and staff members at the jails who run group therapy despite often having no qualifications beyond a high school degree.