st. George — Rather than focus on the typically sober numbers associated with the work that the Washington County Children’s Center provided in an earlier report, the center’s director last week noted what he called the center’s “mental health successes” in Washington. I have shared it with the county commission.
“The big news is the expansion of mental health services,” Christie Pike, director of the center, told St. George News. “We have done a lot to help children overcome trauma.”
In March and August of each year, Christy Pike submits reports to the Washington County Commission as requested for Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants the center receives each year. Grants go a long way toward funding the center’s activities and staff each year.
The Children’s Justice Center provides a place where children who have experienced abuse of any kind can be interviewed in a more engaging and open environment than a police station. Once inside, the child is met with a forensic interviewer during a session and is recorded and monitored by law enforcement and others in another room. From there, the child is referred to medical and mental health services as needed.
Other services provided by the nonprofit center include advocating for victims, preparing protection orders, and helping children and their families find help in a variety of ways.
Our previous semi-annual report included the number of cases processed in the previous year, providing a snapshot of the types of allegations and the individuals involved. This time, Pike has focused on the center’s mental health services, which have expanded over the past few months.
In the first half of 2022, the center has referred 101 clients to treatment services, Pike said.
Of this number, 54 (52%) attended at least one appointment, of whom 41 (76% of the original 54) attended 3 or more treatment sessions. Nationally, 30-37% attend the first session, with 40-60% dropping out midway through.
“As you can see, we’re doing much better than that,” Pike told the committee, thanks to the work of Melissa Boles, the center’s mental health services coordinator.
“She did a great job following up with the client,” added Pike. “When we brought her in, her number one job was to sit with her family and figure out what the barriers were to them bringing their children to therapy and help them understand what was going on with them.” I told her it was about figuring out how to overcome the barriers.”
This is why the center offers treatment in multiple settings, through the center itself, schools, contracted therapists’ offices, or telemedicine appointments.
The center also conducted 93 traumatic stress screens in the first half of the year with an average score of 22.7. Anything over 20 is considered high. Screening examines possible cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal tendencies.
These screens include basic questions about sleep, memory triggers, avoidance targets, and mood disorders. Children can be good actors when it comes to letting parents overlook their concerns, so screenings help shed light on the issues plaguing the child in question.
“We may not know that one of our teenagers is having trouble sleeping at night or avoiding the locker room. “When Melissa does a screener with the kids and sits down with the kids and the parents and discusses the results of that screener, suddenly the parents are mentally aware of the child.” You can get a better idea of what’s really going on.Health.”
The Children’s Justice Center was able to hire another full-time therapist to provide mental health services to rural children in the county. The new therapists are also bilingual, allowing the center to offer Spanish-speaking mental health services “that are in great demand in the county,” Pike said.
The new therapist position is fully funded by a grant from the Cambia Health Foundation.
After the committee meeting, Pike told The St. George News that the mental health services the center provides help protect victims of childhood abuse and help keep communities safe.
Pike referred to research conducted by academics that she encountered in her own research on childhood mental health. It points to a connection between mass shootings and childhood trauma, also known as “harmful childhood experiences.”
Harmful experiences included child abuse, mental health issues, family dysfunction, and other factors.
“Our work on mental health is extremely important to our community,” Pike said. “We address problems before they become big problems and help children live healthier, happier lives for life. It helps us maintain a strong community.”
On what people can do to help, Pike said cases of possible child abuse can and should be reported. Further, such action is required under Utah law. Furthermore, she has previously stated that an adult needs to be worthy of a child’s trust.
“When I talk to my kids, I tell them, ‘Please, if something goes wrong with you, talk to an adult you trust, an adult who will always do the right thing,'” Pike said. Told. .
If you believe you or someone you know needs help from the Washington County Child Justice Center, call 435-634-1134, visit the center’s website, or visit Utah’s 24-Hour Child Abuse Center. Call the Reporting Hotline at 1-855-323-3237.
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