An important new resource for addressing mental health has opened its doors to Einstein students and postdoctoral fellows in the new psychiatry suite on the 4th Floor of the Van Etten Building.
From left: Bruce Schwartz, M.D., Jonathan Alpert, M.D., Montefiore CEO Steven Safyer, M.D., Mary Kelly, Ph.D., Joseph Battaglia, M.D., Dean Gordon Tomaselli, M.D., Kristin Williams, Class of 2021, and Allison Ludwig, M.D.At a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Sept. 20 to celebrate the opening of the Einstein Student Mental Health Center, second-year medical student Kristin Williams told the crowd, “We now have a space for students that is uniquely equipped to address the specific challenges that many of us face.” Ms. Williams, Class of 2021 and a member of the advisory board for the new center, added, “Many of us struggle with feelings of stress, inadequacy, and isolation. Having a clinic here on campus will provide easy access to the support that we need. Its very presence will remind us that it is OK to seek help and that we are not alone.”
The center, directed by assistant professor Joseph Battaglia, M.D., is a result of a collaboration of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, headed by Jonathan E. Alpert, M.D., Ph.D., the office of student affairs, and members of the Einstein student body. Counseling services are available Monday through Friday to medical, graduate, and M.D./Ph.D. students as well as postdocs.
Allison Ludwig, M.D., associate dean for student affairs, said that when she assumed her role six years ago, she learned that students needed help with more than time management. “There were some significant unmet needs in regard to mental health,” she said. “These problems have probably always been there, but my generation and the generation before me swept them under the rug. The bravery of students and postdocs who came forward with their needs and advocated for change has allowed this mental health center to be built.”
Dr. Safyer (l) with Dr. Tomaselli (r) and student Ms. Williams.The space originally housed a tuberculosis sanitarium, noted Steven M. Safyer, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Montefiore Medicine. “And it is coming back to life. Cases of depression, anxiety, and even suicide are unfortunately too high in our profession. This new mental health center is an important step forward in changing how we think about the well-being of our students.”
Gordon F. Tomaselli, M.D., the Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean, said that medicine can be “one of the most challenging, gratifying, and human of endeavors, and as such, it can put a lot of pressure” on students at Einstein, “who have incredible intelligence and personal and emotional reserve. But it’s not limitless,” he said. “After all, you are human.”
Center Director Dr. Battaglia reminded the assembled crowd that mental health “is the key to well-being.” And he said there are three components to mental health: education, peer mentorship, which involves early detection and early intervention, and making sure services are evidence-based and readily available.
“This is a formative time,” Dr. Battaglia added. “I remember as a student there were times when I was not sure of which direction to go in. Having a ray of light to guide you during important moments is critical. This center and these services are there to provide that guiding light.”
Students and post-docs can contact the center for appointments at (718) 839-7400 or email Dr. Battaglia at firstname.lastname@example.org. The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and until 7 p.m. Wednesdays. Walk-in hours are also available from 8 a.m to noon and 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
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Posted on: Friday, September 28, 2018