Children’s of Alabama expands Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC)
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Since the pandemic, the demand for mental health services among children has sharply increased. Now, more help is on the way for children and teens navigating the mental health system as the Psychiatric Intake Response Center at Children’s Hospital goes statewide.
“Once the pandemic hit, it really exacerbated an already existing need,” said Cindy Jones, the director at PIRC, “and it’s only increased.”
Jones says families don’t always know where to turn for help, so to give them the ability to navigate the system, PIRC is expanding statewide. Adults can call the free, confidential phone response center and speak to a licensed mental health professional.
“A lot of people don’t know, does my child need to see a psychiatrist? Do they need to go to therapy? Do they need to do both? And so, we’re able to educate them on that,” said Jones.
Since 2018, the PIRC team has identified more than 1,600 providers in the state and created a database that is updated regularly.
“It sort of takes the legwork out of it for the parents, the guardians or whomever is trying to help the child,” she explained. “So, if they will just pick up the phone, we are here to advocate, we are here to support, encourage, and direct them in in what their child needs.”
Jones says this could break down barriers for those in rural parts of the state.
“We’re really excited about that, because our goal is that this is a service available to everyone, and there are so many people in need, and it’s harder to find mental health providers in rural counties.”
The center is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. The number for the PIRC line is 205-638-PIRC (7472)
In addition to taking calls in the PIRC, the team also assesses children who are in crisis who come into the emergency department at Children’s of Alabama.
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