August 4, 2014

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – The Children’s Medical and Mental Health Resource Network has now formed in Southern Illinois in an effort to lend assistance to traumatized children.

The network is an extension of the SIU School of Medicine and will focus on increasing the number of professionals who will provide mental health services to children in need that reside within the southern 16 counties of the state.

The network’s advisory board is working on bringing an 18-month learning collaborative to train mental health clinicians; their supervisors; and first responders whether they be teachers, law enforcement officers, daycare professionals, foster parents, or others. They will be trained on how to treat and work with children who have experienced trauma.

After the final learning session, the collaborators will produce 50 newly-certified clinicians in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), an evidence-based treatment widely used for childhood trauma. The learning collaborative will also have a supervisor and broker’s track to train community partners.

Ginger Meyer, clinical director for the Children’s Medical and Mental Health Network, said she is looking forward to the day when the network can provide more than enough mental health services for the children in the region.

“We have a few pockets of certified clinicians whom we are able to refer abused and neglected children to, but there are not nearly enough,” she said. “My thought is that someday soon, a child in any of the Southern Illinois counties will be able to access trauma treatment and begin to heal.”

The Poshard Foundation, which caters to the needs of abused and neglected children, is doing its part to support the network. Co-founders Jo and Glenn Poshard presented the network with a check for $100,000 Thursday at John A. Logan College, the foundation’s home base.

“I met with Ginger about a year ago and she shared with me the vision that she had for a mental health resource network in Southern Illinois,” Jo Poshard said. “We talked about the number of children here who do not have accesss to the specialized counseling they need in order to heal. In the 15 years that our foundation has been in existence, we have had countless calls and requests for specialized counseling from agencies and case workers desperately trying to find resources to help abused children.

“Although we do have some excellent mental health providers in Southern Illinois,” Poshard said, “our numbers fall woefully short of the need. And our children suffer because of that. By supporting this project, we believe our foundation will change abused children’s lives for the better.”

Glenn Poshard said that training more professionals helps address the needs of traumatized children and that providing direct intervention is a major step forward in filling the gap in service in Southern Illinois.

“When this project was brought to our attention and we did our research on the training, it was certainly something that we wanted to support. While this is our initial contribution, we want to continue to be a major supporter of this project.”

Meyer was thankful for the assist.

“Without the support of the Poshard Foundation, we wouldn’t be able to provide the learning collaborative so quickly and for as many people who will be trained to be trauma informed,” she said.

Meyer referred to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, which indicate that childhood trauma is defined as the experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful, often resulting in lasting mental and physical effects.

Nearly 35 million children through the age of 17 in the U.S., she said, have experienced one or more types of childhood trauma. And in Illinois, 42 percent of children 17 and under have suffered one or more traumatic experience.