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Front Page » May 21, 2002 » Local News » Project observing Children's Medical Health Week with ope...
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Project observing Children's Medical Health Week with open house


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By KEN LARSON
Sun Advocate publisher

The state and nation are observing Children's Mental Health Week and the Frontier Project is celebrating its second anniversary in eastern Utah with an open house.

The informative open house will be presented May 22 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Four Corners Mental Health, located at 105 West 100 North in Price.

According to project community development director Zena Robinson, the program is new, exciting, and offers families and children many opportunities.

The local Frontier Project program serves individuals residing in Carbon, Grand and Emery counties.

During the open house, organizers will provide attendees with materials about the Frontier Project and the "wraparound" program that coordinates and networks with many agencies in the community.

Robinson pointed out that wraparound is not a program or a service.

"It is a process or a way of working with your child and family," said Robinson, pointing out that the process is based on the several core values.

The process is child and family centered, community based, family driven when possible, encourages family involvement at all levels of design, culturally competent, community developed, collaboration, effective resource utilization, locally controlled, strength based and individualized services, according to the development director.

Now that the program is completing its second year, Robinson points out the success of the program is because it is comprised of family, faith and friends, where children or families are not blamed or shamed, but rather encouraged, guided and directed to a unit where everyone involved is helped.

Wraparound follows the idea services should be tailored to meet the needs of each individual child or family.

"Each wraparound plan is developed and approved by the family team," explained the program director. "The family team is community based, unconditional, culturally sensitive."

Each team could be different, depending on the circumstances.

A team could include a parent or a surrogate parent, the child, extended family, clergy, neighbors or friends and could include other social service agencies.

Robinson summarized the successes that already been achieved in two years in the region.

"We have enhanced family involvement on all levels," she said. She explained that family advocates and facilitators have been hired and trained in each county.

Carbon, Emery and Grand have developed and implemented family advocacy in the wraparound process.

Policies have been developed and children's clinical and psychiatric consultation is in place as a resource.

Each county has completed a base line study and gathered valuable information about community planning, budget forecasts and grants.

Training has happened, a governance structure is currently in place and research has implemented much needed data into the system.

How serious are mental health problems among children?

Robinson indicated that, at any one time, between 10 percent and 15 percent of all children and all adolescents experience some symptoms of depression.

In any given year, approximately 5 percent of children between 9 and 17 years of age have full-fledged depression.

Children also suffer from anxiety disorders and many youth struggle with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders.

Robinson also added that a small percentage of teenage girls develop anorexia nervosa and as many as 10 percent may die as a result.

Robinson also pointed out that another key to all of these programs and assistance is the prevention of suicides among teenagers.

In many cases, the suicide rate among minority teenagers is much higher. The rate is dropping among white teenage males. However in Native and African American families, the rate of suicide still runs very high.

"It's easy to identify children's physical needs such as food, clothes, and adequate shelter. But a child's emotional needs may be less obvious and that is why its important to understand that there are basics for a child's good mental health. These include love and encouragement, safe and secure surroundings, an opportunity to develop talents and abilities, play time with other children, appropriate guidance and discipline and professional help, when needed," summarized Robinson.

To learn more about the wraparound project, Carbon County residents are encouraged to stop by the open house.

The Frontier Project may also be reached by calling the office at 637-1497.


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