One of the communities served by www.rtor.org.
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About New Canaan
Located northeast of New York City, New Canaan is a small affluent town in lower Fairfield County, Connecticut, settled in 1731. The town has a population of 19,738 with a median household income of $175,331. Considered part of Connecticut’s Gold Coast, New Canaan is known for its excellent public school system, its wide range of architecture from the Harvard Five modern homes to historic New England colonials and farmhouses, as well as a signature town center.
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Focus on Mental Health in New Canaan
According to the 2016 Silver Hill Hospital Community Health Needs Assessment, access, education and outreach for mental health services are significant gaps that need to be addressed in Fairfield County, including New Canaan. Key respondents from the Needs Assessment agreed that there are an insufficient number of providers available to treat mental health or substance abuse issues. Less than 40% of respondents felt that prevention, education and outreach regarding mental health and/or substance abuse occurs frequently enough in the community.
The Silver Hill Needs Assessment also concluded that anxiety and depression are the top two most pressing mental health issues in Fairfield County. According to Jackie D’Louhy, LCSW, Youth and Family Services Coordinator at New Canaan Youth Services, depression and anxiety are on the rise in youth, and many children and adolescents have not developed the coping skills needed to succeed as they grow into adulthood.
During 2015-2016, all hospitals in Southwestern Connecticut conducted Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) in their surrounding towns. In every case, mental health and substance use were identified among the top priority needs for each hospital’s catchment area, as was also the case in the prior hospital 2014 CHNA process. The 2012 Greater Norwalk Area Community Health Assessment and Improvement Initiative (CHA-CHIP) found that for youth living in the Greater Norwalk area, including the town of New Canaan, mental health is a major concern. Norwalk Health Assessment focus group participants cited that contributing factors included the academic pressure to succeed, stigma associated with seeking mental health care, and gaps in mental health services.
According to Joyce Sixsmith, Executive Director of RAM Council (a nonprofit organization that provides high school students an avenue to substance-free activities), kids are stressed out from the pressure to meet their parents’, families’ and teachers’ high expectations to succeed.
Ellen Brezovsky, Executive Director of New Canaan Cares, a nonprofit community organization advancing the health and well-being of youth and families, said that she is seeing much more anxiety in young people due to the pressure to succeed and perform at a high level.
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Drug and Alcohol Use
Data shows that substance use rates for youth are slightly higher in Connecticut as compared to the nation. For Fairfield County adults, binge drinking has been increasing since 2006, with the percent of adults who binge drink being higher in Fairfield County than the rest of the state and nation. The 2012 Greater Norwalk Area CHA-CHIP found that smoking, drinking and marijuana use are major issues impacting the health and well-being of area youth.
Underage drinking continues to be a significant issue in New Canaan and throughout Fairfield County. According to Chief Leon Krolikowski, of the New Canaan Police Department, alcohol is the most widely abused substance in New Canaan.
According to Robert Curry, Founder and President of Turning Point for Leaders, a coaching and consulting firm providing substance abuse treatment programs to senior executives, professionals and individuals seeking recovery, there has been more awareness and acceptance in New Canaan about recognizing and addressing substance use and mental health issues. New Canaan has numerous resources to support substance abuse recovery and substance abuse prevention. There is a rich array of twelve-step programs and many people move to New Canaan and surrounding communities to be connected to these recovery and prevention services, according to Robert Curry.
In July 2018, the town of New Canaan launched www.drugfreenc.com, a substance use education website. According to Chief Krolikowski and New Canaan First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, the mission of Drug Free New Canaan is to share New Canaan-centered substance use information, which educates the community about practical and successful models for prevention, recovery, and support. “Given the nationwide and local opioid crisis, there is a real need for more effective substance use help and education. This website is a step in the right direction,” said First Selectman Moynihan in a statement. This website is one of the first substance use education websites in the state of Connecticut.
In response to the growing opioid abuse epidemic in Connecticut, where in the last five years, 165 out of 169 towns in Connecticut have lost citizens due to opioid addiction, the New Canaan Parent Support Group and New Canaan Community Foundation hosted their first annual vigil in 2017 on National Overdose Awareness Day. The goal of this annual vigil is to offer hope for recovery, and to reduce the stigma related to acknowledging addiction, and asking for and receiving help.
In 2017, New Canaan was selected to participate in Facing Addiction’s Pilot Community Project to improve the way New Canaan prevents and handles substance abuse. Facing Addiction Inc. is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to finding solutions to the addiction crisis by unifying the voice of the over 45 million Americans and their families directly impacted by addiction. Facing Addiction will work with New Canaan town officials and policy makers to: secure increases in localized funding to adequately address the crisis; train advocates on proper organizational and advocacy techniques to reform the community’s response; invest time and resources in communication opportunities with elected officials and other policy makers; provide media guidance to garner press coverage to further highlight solutions to the problem; and develop political strategies and aid community stakeholders in the development of an overarching “campaign strategy.”
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To strengthen the community’s response to mental health and substance use challenges, the town of New Canaan created a new position, for a part-time Director of Behavioral Health. Newly appointed in May 2018, the Director assists in improving the Town’s mental health and substance use services and provides guidance to all town departments to address behavioral health needs. With this appointment, New Canaan became one of the first communities in Connecticut with a Director of Behavioral Health.
There are a number of community organizations focused on strengthening youth and families and providing mental health information and substance abuse prevention programs. These include the RAM Council, New Canaan Cares, New Canaan Parent Support Group, New Canaan Youth Services and the New Canaan Coalition.
In May 2018, Laurel House, Inc. a mental health service provider in southwestern Connecticut and sponsor of www.rtor.org (a gateway website for families that helps them connect with expert mental health treatment and providers) was awarded a grant of $9,000 from the New Canaan Community Foundation to help www.rtor.org reach more young and emerging adults with mental health disorders. This grant helps fund the salary of a Young Adult Resource Manager in support of Laurel House’s new Tele-Education Support Program (TEdS).
TEdS is an enhanced Supported Education service that provides on-campus support to students via phone, Skype, and FaceTime. Supported Education is an evidence-based program that assists participants in obtaining post-secondary education through each step of the application, enrollment, and course/degree process. TEdS provides comprehensive wrap-around support to students who live away from home on or near their school campus. It offers counseling, guidance, and support to help older teens and young adults with mental health needs succeed in college and other post-secondary vocational certification.
For more information on mental health services in New Canaan, contact an rtor.org Resource Specialist. Resource Specialists can help families find expert mental health resources to recover in New Canaan and other communities of Fairfield County. This is a free service.
rtor.org Family-Endorsed Providers located in New Canaan
Rocco Marotta, MD, PhD – board-certified psychiatrist and Adult Transitional Living Program Service Chief at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, CT.
Carol Monroe, NP, APRN – an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse who has a comprehensive general adult psychiatry practice in New Canaan, CT.
Silver Hill Hospital – independent, nonprofit psychiatric hospital, known for compassionate, quality care and an individualized approach to treatment.
Devon Suozzi, LCSW – licensed clinical social worker in private practice serving New Canaan, CT, and the surrounding communities.
More Resources in New Canaan
Drug Free New Canaan – Shares New Canaan-centered substance use information to educate the New Canaan community about practical and successful models for prevention, recovery, and support.
Laurel House, Inc. – A nonprofit organization located in Stamford that provides resources and opportunities for individuals and families to achieve and sustain mental health.
The Lighthouse – A residential sober living facility in Fairfield County, CT that provides its residents with a safe and supportive environment, a clean and positive living experience based on sobriety, and a new way of living without the use of drugs or alcohol.
NAMI Southwest CT – The local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is dedicated to improving quality of life for people living with mental health conditions and their families, through support, education and advocacy. Their New Canaan Support Group meets the 2nd Tuesday every month, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Silver Hill Hospital, 208 Valley Road East Campus, Jurgenson Building, Room 1.
New Canaan Cares – An independent, nonprofit community organization whose purpose is to advance the health and well-being of youth and families.
New Canaan Community Foundation – The New Canaan Community Foundation is the local charitable partner for all New Canaan residents and offers a wide range of philanthropic and educational services. The Foundation collaborates with donors to help individuals achieve their personal giving goals.
New Canaan High School – Counseling Department- New Canaan High School has a dedicated “Teen Talk” counselor who provides support to students experiencing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and substance use, as well as students with academic, social, and family issues.
New Canaan Human Services – The Department of Human Services helps all New Canaan residents to function optimally by developing programs and activities that address developmental needs, as well as helping residents obtain appropriate social services and resources.
New Canaan Library – The New Canaan Library’s mission is to inspire lifelong learning through innovation and discovery, and to be the information and cultural center of the community.
New Canaan Parent Support Group – An organization dedicated to providing an inclusive and safe environment for parents of loved ones affected by addiction and substance use.
New Canaan Police Department– A Nationally Accredited Law Enforcement Agency which serves the community of New Canaan by performing the law enforcement function in a professional manner.
New Canaan YMCA – Nonprofit organization that provides services and programs in the New Canaan community. The YMCA is committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.
New Canaan Youth Services – Youth Services helps New Canaan youth and families to function optimally by developing programs and activities that address developmental needs, as well as helping youth and families obtain appropriate social services and resources.
RAM Council– Nonprofit organization in New Canaan that provides high school students, an avenue to substance-free activities, healthy alternatives to substance use, and an opportunity to build leadership skills through hosting educational forums.
Silver Hill Hospital – The mission of Silver Hill Hospital is to provide patients with the best available treatment of mental illness and addiction; and to offer continuing support, counseling and education to patients and their families in every phase of illness and recovery.
www.rtor.org – rtor.org is a free service of Laurel House, Inc. It is a gateway website that helps families find expert mental health resources and best practice services.
For more information on mental health services in New Canaan speak with an RtoR Resource Specialist at www.rtor.org.