Media Contact: Phyllis Jones
(202) 673-1937 (desk) 202. 631.3077 (mobile)
Hundreds of mental health providers, child advocates, and government policy makers attended a conference on Monday, October 3, 2011 to learn about nationally recognized treatment services shown to improve the mental well being of at risk youth and their families.
Sponsored by the District Department of Mental Health, the all day conference promoted proven community based treatments called “evidence-based programs” as more effective alternatives to out of home residential treatment facilities. Hundred of District youth already are benefiting from these services provided through the Department of Mental Health. The conference was designed to promote these therapeutic practices shown to improve functioning in the home, school or community.
Evidence-based programs featured include treatment for parents and youth children who experience violence and trauma, therapy that focuses on improving the quality of the parent-child relationship, and psychotherapy that addresses the unique needs of children with depression, behavior problems and other difficulties related to traumatic life experiences. The Department of Mental Health now offers these services through designated community mental health providers.
“We know that these services make a difference in the lives of children and their families,” said Stephen T. Baron, Director of the Department of Mental Health. “We want to make sure that child serving organizations, Family Court and the police department know that they are available and can make referrals when appropriate.”
R. Dwayne Betts, a nationally known author and advocate for at-risk youth was the conference keynote speaker. Betts was sentenced to nine years in prison at age 16. His first book, A Question of Freedom, tells his story of literature, insanity and finding himself while in prison. Betts also is the national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice. Other speakers included Baron, Beatriz ‘BB” Otero, Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, and local mental health professionals. The conference was hosted by Evidence-Based Associates, a national organization that provides technical assistance to support evidence-based practices.
The Department of Mental Health provides a range of services for children and youth including a 24/7 emergency service for children experiencing an emotional or psychiatric crisis at home, in school or in the community. The Department also works closely with the District Child and Family Services Agency to meet the mental health needs of children in the child welfare system.
For referral to services call 1-888-793-4357 or for more information, go to www.dmh.dc.gov.