DBHDD focuses on youth during May’s Mental Health Month

Earlier this month, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day with more than 200 supporters at the state Capitol. The event, which featured a panel on school-based mental health services, represents just one of the many ways that DBHDD promotes children’s mental health and the importance of early treatment for youth with serious emotional disturbances.

DBHDD’s Office of Children, Young Adults and Families provides assessment, counseling, therapy, crisis intervention, peer support, clubhouses and other services for youth and their families. Services are targeted toward children and adolescents (ages 4-17), and transition-aged youth and young adults (18-26) who often fall into a gap between child and adult mental health services.

A 2009 report by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine estimated that 13-20 percent of children living in the United States experience a mental health challenge in a given year, and that youth behavioral health disorders cost an estimated $247 billion annually. This figure includes costs associated with mental health treatment, lost productivity and criminal activity.

DBHDD is improving children’s mental health care through several initiatives.

Georgia System of Care
DBHDD’s Offices of Children, Young Adults and Families and Federal Grant Programs and Special Initiatives are working with partners across Georgia to build a strong system of care for children’s mental health services. The system of care primarily serves people from birth to age 21 who experience a diagnosable emotional, socio-emotional, behavioral or mental health disorder that impairs their functioning in family, school or community settings.

The Georgia System of Care seeks to change the way children’s mental health services are delivered by bringing together Georgia’s child-serving agencies and organizations to provide integrated care that is comprehensive and effective. The system is recovery-focused and takes a family-driven, youth-guided approach to service delivery. System of care focuses on workforce development, system-level planning, social marketing and support for youth and young adults. Clubhouses serve people with co-occurring mental health and substance use challenges.

The 2015 Georgia System of Care Academy will take place on July 14-16 at the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott in Stone Mountain. We will share more information about the academy in upcoming DBHDD newsletters.

Listening, Inspiring and Guiding Health Transitions (LIGHT) Initiative
The LIGHT Initiative focuses on the young adult population and includes development of policy and practice improvements, as well as treatment for first-episode psychosis. The program will offer specialized training and a provider toolkit to DBHDD providers.The initiative is supported by DBHDD’s Offices of Children, Young Adults and Families and Federal Grant Programs and Special Initiatives.

Georgia Apex Project
The first signs of mental or emotional distress often appear when a child is at school. The Georgia Apex Project, supported by the Office of Children, Young Adults and Families, aims to reduce the number of youth with unmet mental health needs which often contribute to poor academic performance. The project supports school-based mental health programs, including early detection of mental health needs, and establishes better coordination between school districts and the state’s community service boards. The Georgia Center of Excellence in Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health will provide ongoing technical assistance and support to Georgia Apex Project grantees.

Youth Mental Health Clubhouse
DBHDD also supports youth mental health clubhouses for children and families. Clubhouses offer a positive and healthy environment for youth struggling with mental health challenges or difficult family situations. Clubhouse staff help with homework, job placement, peer support, family engagement and social activities to engage youth and help them manage their symptoms. There are currently six youth clubhouses in Georgia and plans to create five more in 2015.Read about youth clubhouses on the DBHDD blog.

For more information, visit the Office of Children, Young Adults and Families on DBHDD’s website.

Youth clubhouses provide safe and supportive environments across Georgia

Standing with Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore in green and yellow shirts printed with “Mental Health Awareness Month; Don’t let it stop you from shining,” kids from the SHINE clubhouse in Bulloch County were recognized this week for adopting an area to clean up and beautify.

The kids in the SHINE clubhouse program learn about community partnerships, attend various cultural events, take field trips to Atlanta, Stone Mountain and other attractions, visit nursing homes and create artwork and crafts to display at Stateboro’s First Friday events.

All these activities work toward the goal of recovery from substance use or mental health disorders by engaging youth and helping them manage behaviors and symptoms.

SHINE clubhouse kids attended the signing of the proclamation by Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore declaring May 3 – 9, 2015 Children’s Mental Health Week. Mayor Moore also recognized the youth for their work on “Adopt a Spot,” a local volunteer program that keeps public spaces clean.
SHINE clubhouse kids attended the signing of the proclamation by Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore declaring May 3 – 9, 2015 Children’s Mental Health Week. Mayor Moore also recognized the youth for their work on “Adopt a Spot,” a local volunteer program that keeps public spaces clean.

“In the clubhouse, youth participate in life skills groups, social outings, educational supports, career development and exploration and other activities that teach them how to maintain a healthy and sober lifestyle. Youth are also connected to resources that will empower them to make informed decisions about their recovery,” said Yomi Makanjuola, DBHDD’s director of treatment services.

DBHDD provides funding and offers support through staff training and site visits in partnership with local providers for two types of adolescent clubhouses: substance abuse recovery support clubhouses and resiliency support clubhouses.

Substance abuse recovery support clubhouses are for youth with a primary diagnosis of substance use disorder.  They provide a comprehensive recovery support model designed to engage youth and their families. Staff and clubhouse members work together to perform the jobs at the clubhouse and participate in social outings, educational supports, employment supports and transitional services. Most of the youth are between the age of 11 and 17 and are referred through probation, the Department of Juvenile Justice, community service boards and other substance abuse treatment programs.

As one component in the overall care that these adolescents receive, the clubhouses are designed to provide recovery support to youth as they strive to improve their life and wellness while decreasing or encouraging abstinence from alcohol and/or substance use.  Participants in the program either currently receive substance abuse treatment at a community service board or they have recently completed treatment at a private facility.

Resiliency support clubhouses are designed to provide a full array of unique services for children and families coping with the isolation, stigma and other challenges of mental health disorders. These clubhouse programs provide similar services to the substance abuse recovery support clubhouses, but also include peer support, family engagement and social activities.

SHINE clubhouse kids clean up their "Adopt a Spot".
SHINE clubhouse kids clean up their “Adopt a Spot”.

Pineland Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, a community service board in eastern Georgia, offers both types of programs, and an additional co-occurring clubhouse program. SHINE is a resiliency support clubhouse that provides after-school care for children and adolescents in the area. Snacks are provided and computers are available to use, allowing kids to do their homework in a safe, supportive environment.

“The clubhouses are not focused on treatment, but on skill-building and exposing the kids to enriching activities,” said Dr. Cynthia Cone-Dekle, director of behavioral health at Pineland.

Pineland also runs IMPACT, a clubhouse for youth dealing with substance abuse challenges. Members in this program are typically older teens.

As youth are discharged from the clubhouse programs, outcome measures have shown a decrease in substance use, Department of Juvenile Justice involvement, and behavioral problems. Parents of clubhouse members have reported an increase in positive social function, school attendance and performance and improved family involvement and relationships.

DBHDD funds nine substance abuse recovery support clubhouses and six resiliency support clubhouses across the state.

For locations of the substance abuse recovery support clubhouses, please see: http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/child-and-adolescent-services

For locations of the resiliency support clubhouses, please see: http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/office-cyf-services#clubs