Local view: Help is available for troubled children
We appreciated the recent News Tribune and FOX 21 News series on mental illness in children titled "Losing our Children." As mental-health professionals who have worked in the field for well over 30 years, we believe the series, and the families ...
We appreciated the recent News Tribune and FOX 21 News series on mental illness in children titled "Losing our Children." As mental-health professionals who have worked in the field for well over 30 years, we believe the series, and the families and children who told their stories, helped shed light on a topic that is often misunderstood.
Information about and access to services is critical, and we wanted to make sure families who read the articles are aware of additional mental health services available in the community.
Northwood Children's Services has been providing care and treatment to local children and youths since 1883. In the past 126 years, we have provided a brighter future for thousands of children with mental health and behavioral disorders. Current services include residential treatment, a diagnostic and assessment center, day treatment programs, an early intervention program for at-risk preschool children, therapeutic foster care and outpatient mental health services. We are licensed by the state of Minnesota and fully accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services to Children and Families.
During 2009, we served more than 125 children and youths from Duluth and surrounding communities in our day-treatment programs. These programs provide regular and special-education services in small classroom settings, daily and weekly group, individual and family therapy, on-call crisis intervention, behavior management and life-skills development for children and youths ages 5 to 18.
With an average length of involvement of seven months in our day-treatment programs, children and their families are given time to learn new coping skills, understand the impact of their emotional problems on their relationships and successfully transition back into their home schools.
We engage parents, referring workers and mental-health professionals from the community, along with Northwood staff, to form interdisciplinary teams. These teams, with parents as key members, set the direction of the treatment process, evaluate progress and set new goals for each child's growth and healing.
We have been fortunate to develop many meaningful local partnerships to enhance the impact we have on the children and families we serve. We work very closely with staff members from St. Louis County Social Services who can provide additional support or resources to families, as needed. Our clients receive excellent speech and occupational-therapy services through the Polinsky Medical Rehabilitation Center. The Duluth public school system provides topnotch special-
education services at the programs. Psychiatric consultation is available from outstanding physicians from Miller-Dwan and the Human Development Center, and we also partner with experienced clinical consultants from St. Mary's and the College of St. Scholastica.
We believe strongly that beauty is a silent teacher, and we take tremendous pride in the home-like qualities, cleanliness and attractiveness of our facilities. These components, along with our well-trained and dedicated staff, enable us to fulfill our mission of offering comprehensive, holistic and flexible programs to meet the unique needs of children of different backgrounds, ages, abilities and interests.
A primary objective of our day treatment programs is to help children and youth acquire the skills they need to lead more successful, satisfying lives, while continuing to live with their families.
As the "Losing our Children" series conveyed, timely and effective help for children struggling with mental illness can make all the difference.
RICHARD WOLLEAT is president & CEO of Northwood Children's Services in Duluth. DR. JAMES YEAGER is president of Northwood Foundation in Duluth.