Baystate Medical Center receives $ 5 million federal grant to expand treatment of early childhood trauma


SPRINGFIELD – The Baystate Medical Center has received $ 5 million in federal funding that will be used, in part, to establish a national child advocacy support center and training to help report and treat trauma from the early childhood and behavioral health issues.

The pair of five-year grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will allow Baystate to continue participating in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and help its Department of Psychiatry create the Building Resiliency in Young Children program. It will focus on people aged 5 and under who have psychological issues associated with so-called adverse childhood experiences.

In addition to building an internal team of clinicians trained for this work, the new program will allow Baystate to provide training and consultations to community partners, such as Square One in Greater Springfield.

“We are very pleased to be able to expand our efforts to help children and families who suffer the psychological consequences of trauma and child abuse in our communities and those across the country through this federal award,” said the Dr Barry Sarvet, chair of The Department of Psychiatry at Baystate Health, Friday.

“We are also thrilled to have this opportunity to create early childhood mental health programs in Baystate to address an important need in our local mental health system. We look forward to working with our local and national partners to disseminate best practices in the provision of mental health services to benefit children and families whose lives have been changed by trauma.

The new Baystate center will provide training and technical support to child rights centers with multidisciplinary response teams. It will encourage the development of trauma-informed clinical practices that will reduce the risk that children will be re-traumatized as their cases are processed and investigated for any possible criminal case.

The expanded early childhood mental health program will allow specialized training of more clinicians and the ability to intervene earlier in families where a history of child abuse may put a young child at risk for developing problems. long-term mental and behavioral health, said Sarvet.

“The type of stress that children experience can lead to changes in their neuropsychiatric or neurobiological development, as well as long-term changes in the development of their coping skills and stress response, making them prone to seizures. heart and stroke. Said Sarvet.

“It could mean early mortality, substance use disorders that affect them throughout their lives or turn into depression and high risk of suicide. The bottom line is that we’ve learned if you come in early in the very young ages that you have that ROI where you get paid back multiple times for the resources you provide to very young children.

He added that “working with very young children requires very different skills than working with school-aged children or teenagers because they are not going to sit in a therapist’s office on a chair or a sofa and start to think about what they think.

“Interactions are a lot more than game interactions,” Sarvet said. “A lot of the work has to involve an interactive component, a skill that is really lacking in this community. There are very few early childhood mental health clinicians. We need people with skills in specific models of psychotherapy that have been shown to be effective for young children. “

He called this a “huge gap for the community and that has been a huge gap in Baystate, as we have tended to work with older children – those who are school age or teenagers.”

“Working with the very young is a specialty that is lacking in resources in this community, in our institution and nationally,” said Sarvet. “We see this as the start of building a program for very young children, focused at this particular stage on young people who have experienced trauma, but we will develop over time so that we can intervene early with mental health issues and not just focus on trauma. The earlier you intervene with any type of mental health problem, the easier it is to get good results and results improve over time.

Sarvet said the early childhood mental health program also requires developing a relationship with the parent or caregiver.

“As a therapist, you’re not going to pull a toddler out of his parent’s arms and take him to a separate office,” Sarvet said. “You will be working with the parent and toddler together. You will teach the parent different ways to interact with the child in an encouraging and supportive manner. Some of the treatment models that we will adopt with this funding will address intergenerational trauma.

The “classic example” of such trauma, he said, “would be a parent who suffered their own abuse as a child and that same parent may have a history of an abusive relationship with their partner and then become a victim. domestic violence, and the baby might witness this trauma which also affects the parents’ ability to raise the child.

“Most people have a natural tendency to take care of their child the way they were looked after when they were children,” said Sarvet, who sees hundreds of families potentially helped by the program. “So if you have a parent who was abused as a child, they have a higher risk of an abusive relationship with their own child. “

Federal grants are $ 2 million for the early years program and $ 3 million for the center which will streamline protective services, Sarvet said. Both initiatives will be carried out from the Baystate Family Advocacy Center with preparation for training and hiring dozens of clinicians for the early years program which is slated to begin in the fall.

The money given to Baystate is part of $ 62.4 million distributed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to healthcare organizations nationwide.

Baystate has participated in the Traumatic Stress Network for 11 years.

The Baystate Family Advocacy Center helps children or family who have experienced abuse, sexual assault or exploitation or other forms of violence.

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