PATH: A Journey of Success
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Contributor: Karen Johnston, Mental Health Consultant at United Way Fox Cities
As we celebrate and are reminded of mental health awareness month, it is important to recognize the efforts of many professionals in our community who work collaboratively on initiatives that strengthen programs to assure that children and adolescents are healthy and achieving at their full potential. Thanks to the vision of United Way of the Fox Cities and its community mental health partners, PATH, (Providing Access to Healing) for Students has become a successful, comprehensive, expanded school-based mental health program that supports the social, emotional, and behavioral development of children.
PATH is an evidence-based program offering expanded school-based mental health in twenty three schools and ten area school districts. PATH actively engages parents, community mental health providers and school personnel in the lives of children and adolescents and their families. There are definitive positives to offering these therapeutic mental health services in settings where children spend much of their day. Unaddressed mental illness perpetuates the cyclical pattern of dysfunction in families often for generations. Addressing the mental health needs of both youth and adults has helped to improve parenting skills, build positive parent/child attachments and encourage resiliency. In school-based settings, families, educators and mental health personnel are all focused on specific positive outcomes that improve the quality of life for the children and youth in their care. These services become embedded within an adaptive infrastructure of processes and relationships at the community level and support healthy pathways for children, youth and their families.
PATH serves its participants with respect and dignity acknowledging their strengths, needs and preferences and partners with school personnel to establish one plan of care focused on the strengths, needs and culture of young people and their families. This focus on improved access and navigation of the mental health system, improved quality of care and the expanded involvement of youth and families dedicated to culturally and linguistically appropriate services and their inherent competencies, has helped to improve the quality for life of many in our communities.