Getting an appointment with an adolescent psychiatrist is extremely challenging in NYC. In addition to waiting months to see a doctor, many psychiatrists choose to only see patients who can pay out of pocket and the costs can be astronomical. And given that up to 40% of the young people who participate in Esperanza have mental health care needs, this issue effects the important work we do. But, we are happy to report that these frustrations have been alleviated thanks to the addition of Dr. Suchet Rao and the generous support of the van Ameringen and Dammann Foundations.
Dr. Rao joined the Esperanza staff in October 2016 on a part time basis. A board certified adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Rao completed a Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship at New York University School of Medicine where he earned invaluable experience working with the very clients that Esperanza serves. During his fellowship, Dr. Rao was based at a New York City Detention Center, providing mental health evaluation and treatment to youth in secure and non-secure detention. Many detained youth have been exposed to trauma and abuse, suffer from depression, anxiety, substance abuse and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), this experience makes him the ideal person to provide in-house services at Esperanza.
In addition to his highly skilled and innately understanding approach to adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Rao is available to make home visits as well as meet with young people and families in our office. This is in keeping with our home-based model which allows us to meet clients where they are and to deliver services without the barrier of travel. There are few if any organizations that bring psychiatric assistance into the home as part of an alternative to incarceration program. And, Dr. Rao’s familiarity with the Esperanza program model allows him to more effectively collaborate with Esperanza Field Counselors, work with families to understand diagnoses, treatment plans, and medication options when relevant and also assist with evaluations needed for therapeutic school transfers. And for families that lack medical insurance, having an in-house psychiatrist allows us to ensure that Esperanza youth are not denied proper care on the basis of factors that are outside their control.
We are thrilled that Dr. Rao is a part of the Esperanza family and look forward to a successful collaboration with the van Ameringen and Dammann Foundations as we pioneer this innovative method of delivering psychiatric services.