Kelly Lennon-Martucci, LCSW
Director, School Based Mental Health Services Henry Street Settlement
IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH AMONG SCHOOL CHILDREN
Fast fact: Lennon-Martucci grew up in Connecticut
Kelly Lennon-Martucci identifies how and when a school is in need of better mental health services and works hard with her staff to improve the programs. She previously worked in the foster care field, providing home-based crisis intervention and behavioral support to foster families and also worked at a New York City hospital as a psychiatric social worker. She understands the importance of everyone having an education, and works to help individuals with mental health problems get the education they deserve.
NYN: HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN YOUR FIELD?
KLM: I always knew that I wanted to work with children and families. Specifically children because they don't always have a voice to express themselves or get their needs met. One of my aunts is a social worker, and growing up I was always interested in hearing her stories about her work. I was ultimately drawn to social work because of how the profession always views situations from a social justice lens.
NYN: DESCRIBE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF.
KLM: I think I am most proud of turning around three failing school-based mental health clinics that Henry Street Settlement was asked to take over from another agency in 2012. My staff are what make the program and I am really proud of the team I have developed.
NYN: WHAT CHANGE WOULD MOST HELP THE INDIVIDUALS YOUR ORGANIZATION SERVES?
KLM: I think what would be most helpful is having the city invest in a financial model that provides funding to support all of the unbillable work that school-based mental health clinics do. Most school-based mental health clinics rely on insurance reimbursement to stay fiscally sustainable; however there are many services clinicians do in the schools that are not always reimbursed by insurance. Also, there is a high need for more intensive in-home clinical services to help supplement school-based mental health services for children with school refusal or other challenges.
NYN: WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU’D LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU RETIRE?
KLM: I would like to leave a mark in the communities I serve on a macro level, whether that is continuing to create programs where children and families can easily access mental health care, or making an impact by being the gateway to the social work profession by teaching or doing research related to childhood mental health.
NYN: WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR JOB?
KLM: The staff I supervise have to have a special level of energy and advocacy to manage the demands of this role, while also maintaining a set of boundaries and structure as a therapist. It can be a challenging balance, but also extremely rewarding when you see that your work is not just impacting on the micro level, but also making change on the school community level.