Youth and Family Partnerships

Input from youth and families, too-often overlooked, can contribute greatly to the success of treatment—from providing opinions on a questionnaire to participating in a focus group, from giving feedback on interventions to simply speaking to other families undergoing treatment. Their involvement can also lead to enhanced clinical treatment approaches; improved organizational responsiveness; and changes in policies, training, and patient educational materials. Some families find that reaching out to other families helps their own healing process.

The resources below can guide mental health providers and consumers to develop fruitful partnerships.

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NCTSN  and NCTSN-Member Resources

Pathways to Partnerships with Youth and Families in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (2008) (PDF) offers members of the NCTSN and other agencies that provide trauma treatment a structure for examining and expanding the role of youth and families in their organizations on both the clinical and organizational levels. Self-assessment tools, along with sample goals, objectives, activities, and strategies help users evaluate current participation and target areas for further integrating youth and families. Practical examples from an NCTSN member organization provide useful illustrations of the concepts and methods discussed.

Pathways to Partnerships is a practical resource that gives organizations the tools they need to begin this process of effective engagement.

Pathways to Partnership Tip Sheets
Since the publication of Pathways to Partnership, many NCTSN sites have requested more technical assistance in their efforts to engage youth and families. Based on the input of professionals, families, and youth at sites that have successfully integrated youth and families into their programs or organizations, the Partnering with Youth and Families Committee developed three tip sheets. These tip sheets are not meant to be exhaustive guides, but rather a starting place for Network sites and other agencies seeking to expand the role of youth and families in their organizations.

Partnering with Youth and Families in Trauma Settings: A Speaker Series Log in to the NCTSN Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma to access any of six presentations on provider-consumer partnerships. Free CEs are available.

Policy Brief: Supporting High-Quality Mental Health Services for Child Trauma: Family, Youth, and Consumer Involvement (2008) (PDF)
This policy brief describes some of the many benefits of partnerships among youth, families, caregivers, and professionals, outlines potential barriers to building them, and offers strategies for engaging and maintaining youth and family involvement.

Sometimes Youth Just Want to Be Heard! (2009) (PDF)
Youth Speak! (2009) (PDF)
These two booklets grew out of the participation of youth trauma survivors in an NCTSN meeting on youth and family engagement. In Youth Speak! young people use words and pictures to communicate their experience accessing treatment, working with therapists, and dealing with stigma. Sometimes Youth Just Want to Be Heard! offers young survivors' advice to therapists, parents, and peers. Both resources were developed by the Partnering with Youth and Families Committee of the NCTSN, with leadership from La Rabida Children's Hospital - Chicago Child Trauma Center.

 

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Other Resources

Circle of Parents
Network of parent-led self-help groups

Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health
Family-run organization that advocates for the needs of children receiving mental health services and their families.

Harvard Family Research Project
Project focused on developing and evaluating strategies to promote the well-being of children, youth, families, and their communities.

Innovation Center for Community & Youth Development
Organization providing guidance and technical assistance to engage young people in their communities.

National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse
Technical assistance center providing connections to self-help and advocacy resources and offering expertise on groups and organizations that serve people who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses.

Self-Directed Care
Publications for consumers and survivors from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Youth Bring New Perspective to Mental Health Advocacy
Article from Psychiatric News on young mental health policy consumer advocates.

 

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