EMPS crisis clinician Heather Kunkel visits with Joey Smith, 10, at his home.

Mental Health Team Hits The Road To Help Youth In Crisis

Ten-year-old Joey Smith shared a celebratory high-five with Heather Kunkel, a mental health professional who was visiting the boy’s Thomaston home. “Things are great, spectacular even,” he said, as the two chatted at the kitchen table. It’s a dramatic turnaround for Joey who met Kunkel when she was summoned to Thomaston Center School because he had threatened to harm himself. Now Joey, who has autism, is back at school with a modified curriculum to suit his individual needs and his parents have access to an educational advocate and community resources. The Smiths are among the thousands of Connecticut families turning to the Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services (EMPS) — a crisis intervention program that includes a network of 150 mental health professionals who assist children experiencing a behavioral or mental health crisis at home, school or in the community.

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