Using Natural Supports
Mental Health Happens Everywhere.
It is not something that just happens in clinics or hospitals, but everywhere that children live, learn, & play. A comprehensive and integrated public health model addresses pervasive societal problems and inequalities that are part of our country’s mental health needs.
Community Mental Health
Recreation can teach social skills.
Basketball can provide a mental health moment.
Positive play can make strong leaders.
In partnership with the Chicago Park District (CPD), we developed a mental health model that could be integrated with a park-based after school program in low-income Chicago communities with endemic violence issues.
Pairing teens ages 13-15 to provide mentoring and leadership to middle school youth experiencing social-emotional problems this unique model teaches effective communication, emotion regulation, and problem solving skills as part of a health and recreation curriculum. Here are results from our pilot study; an expanded version of the program launched in spring 2016.
School-based Mental Health Services
Failing schools, inadequate resources, overcrowded classrooms, overwhelmed teachers.
These are components of the school-to-prison pipeline, a set of policies and practices that push disadvantaged, children of color, out of the classroom and far too often, behind bars.
In partnership with Chicago Public Schools, a network of social service organizations, and paraprofessionals—community members trained on the mental health model—sixteen schools are working to curb this tide.
We train Community Health Workers to be empowered and on hand in the classroom. They support teachers, intervene on disruptive behavior in real-time, and work with child and family to integrate social, emotional, and mental health goals with educational aims.
Home-based Mental Health
What it takes to be a good parent is universal, but the barriers to achieve it are not.
We help first-time parents overcome those barriers. By using natural supports within the home to positively influence first time pregnant mothers and their toddlers ages 0 to 5. Research has shown that intervention during this period for psychologically vulnerable moms is absolutely critical to healthy child development. Through home visits twice a week, beginning in the third trimester, we are preparing low-income moms for parenthood.
Graduation Starts Now
A unique partnership with WTTW to provide nudges toward positive mental health outcomes through video.
Research shows that early childhood education can have a profound impact on youth later in life, including the likelihood of high school graduation. We provided the mental health and early childhood expertise in partnership with WTTW for the Graduation Starts Now initiative. This initiative aims to help WTTW viewers, specifically Hispanic/Latino parents, to identify natural supports in their own life that can provide vital mental health and educational lessons. Graduation Starts Now was created by drawing on lessons from our school and home based programs and first-hand experiences of workers in action with their own clients.
Promoting positive mental health interventions can happen anywhere—not just in a clinic or hospital—but, integrated into natural supports in the home, at school, and on the playground alongside existing goals.
Learn more about why a public health approach to children’s mental health is so critical.