The Fordham-Tremont Community Mental Health Center was founded in 1978, and since 1988 it has been a part of the St. Barnabas Hospital Healthcare Network. The Center provides comprehensive community-based behavioral health treatment and preventive services to residents of the south and central Bronx.
The Center has expertise in delivering culturally appropriate services to minority populations, including Latin American immigrants. Bi-lingual Spanish/English clinical professionals are available at all three Fordham-Tremont’s sites. Clinical professionals can conduct therapy in other languages as well, and the St. Barnabas Hospital Language Access Lab supports electronic links to interpreters with whose help Fordham-Tremont clinical professionals can reach persons who communicate in many more languages, including American Sign Language. In addition to a variety of programs for special populations, the Center’s clinics and day treatment programs serve seriously and persistently mentally ill adults, seriously emotionally disturbed children, people with co-occurring mental health and substance use problems, and the families of these clients.
Fordham-Tremont has been given many awards, and those awards have been given because the Center has a long history of large- and small-scale innovations in delivery of quality outpatient mental health services in an impoverished, overwhelmingly minority and immigrant, community.
- Since 1982, Fordham-Tremont has offered programs for individuals who have perpetrated intimate partner violence, and it now operates Choices, a psychoeducational group intervention for batterers, most of whom are referred by the courts and the Department of Probation.
- Starting in 1985 Fordham-Tremont operated a Psycho-Social Club for the Elderly, offering elderly persons with histories of chronic mental illness socialization opportunities and assistance with activities of daily living.
- In 1987 the Center received the National Community Mental Health Centers’ Public Relations Award for its bilingual brochure on Child Sexual Abuse.
- In 1990 the Center was one of the lead mental health agencies to provide crisis intervention and support services to victims and families of victims of the Happy Land Social Club fire; the President of Honduras gave special recognition to us for services provided to the Honduran community.
- We began the Family Crisis Service (FCS) in 1993. FCS offers individual and group therapy, medication management, and supportive services for children, adults, and families who are victims of domestic violence or other crimes. In 1995 FCS was selected for listing in the New York State Directory of Innovative Programs.
- Also in 1993, Fordham-Tremont began its Latin American Immigrant Services (LAIS), to help persons from South America, Central America, and the Caribbean with mental health issues related to the processes of adjusting to their new home. Later that year, the work to create LAIS was honored with the first award given by the New York City Community Services Board and the New York City Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Alcoholism Services for creative systems, special initiative, and superior standards of service excellence.
- Fordham-Tremont started its ACT Team, one of the first in the Bronx, in 1995. Services are provided by a multidisciplinary team of clinical practitioners, who provide help with housing, employment, family relations and other areas of daily living as well as psychotherapy and medication management. This help is given in the community to people who find it difficult to comply with the structure of a clinic or live under the constraints of a hospital.
- In the middle 1990’s the Center restructured its Continuing Treatment Program into a Continuing Day Treatment Program for adults with co-occurring disorders of mental illness and substance abuse (MICA clients).
- Since 1998, with funding from the New York State Office of Victim Services (formerly the New York State Crime Victims Board), we have operated an adjunct to FCS, the Crime Victims Assistance Program, which has provided additional supportive services to victims of many different kinds of crimes and, since 2001, persons affected by the World Trade Center attacks.
- The Director of Fordham-Tremont’s Continuing Day Treatment Unit took a leading role in organizing an exhibit, “Art on my Mind: Achievements of Artists Living with Mental Illness”, held in October 1999 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
- In 2000 the Center started the Bronx Forensic Link Program, which provides case management and support to persons with histories of mental illness coming out of jails and prisons.
- With support from the United Way, for three years early in the last decade the Center operated a Wellness and Recovery Club for adults who had completed treatment.
- Since 2001 the Center has operated an Assisted Competitive Employment Program that helps clients find and hold jobs in the community.
- Several programs worked with the New York Work Exchange of the New York City Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, the Partners for Excellence in Psychiatry program of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and the Workplace Center of the Columbia University School of Social Work to create employment opportunities within the Center for clients on the path to recovery.
- Since 2006, using funds from the Geriatric Mental Health Initiative of the New York City Council, we have provided services such as depression screenings, referrals to physicians, and health education presentations both to elderly clients of Fordham-Tremont clinics and to elderly people in the larger community.
- The New York State Office of Mental Health requires that, for every client admitted to a program it licenses, an individualized treatment plan be prepared and regularly updated. In 2009 Clinician Lorie Meiselman devised a simple, but effective, sign to encourage her clients to ask about reviewing their treatment plans. Now plaques on the desks of all Fordham-Tremont Clinicians convey her message. Ms. Meiselman received a special award for her ingenuity and sensitivity to clients’ needs.
To sustain this tradition, Fordham-Tremont has for many years supported a range of staff development activities. In September 2009 the distinguished artist-writer Marta Sanchez made a presentation. The Minuchin Center for the Family conducted weekly seminars for eight clinical staff members from August 2009 to February 2010. Judith Landau, M.D.—President of the LINC Foundation and Senior Advisor at New York University’s International Trauma Studies Program—led a session on resilience in July 2010. For the past three years an agency-wide Grand Rounds program has been a crucial part of our staff development effort. The program has focused on clinical and community issues, with a requirement that the content and approach of all programs be culturally competent. In 2009-2010 the outside speakers at our Grand Rounds were:
- Evelyn Laureano, Ph.D., Executive Director, Neighborhood SHOPP (Self Help by Older Persons Project)
- Marsha M. Bardash, Psy.D., Director of School-Based Services, Guidance Center of Brooklyn
- Peter Vaughn, Ph.D., Dean, Fordham University School of Social Service
- Renee Solomon, DSW, Associate Professor (Ret.) Columbia University School of Social Work
- Daniel Minuchin, MA, LMFT, Minuchin Center for the Family
Innovations into the Future
The tradition of creative service continues:
- In 2008 the New York State Office of Mental Health approved Fordham-Tremont’s proposal to increase the range of services for MICA clients by operating a satellite clinic specializing in their treatment in addition to the MICA Continuing Day Treatment Program.
- Psycho-Social Club has been replaced with the Midlife and Older Adults Program of the Continuing Care Clinic. This is a family-systems oriented service which provides individual and family treatment as well as clinical groups on such issues as wellness and nutrition, elder abuse, and depression.
- Choices is now part of the Men’s Mental Health Program, which offers group therapy in Spanish and English. Groups for veterans, for young men with ADHD, and for fathers are being planned.
- In 2009 FCS became part of the new Women and Families Center. The Center helps women struggling with traumatic events such as domestic abuse, female veterans, female immigrants and their families from non-Spanish speaking countries, bereaved women, women struggling with post-partum depression, and women who have suffered miscarriages.