Child Savers launches group therapy for teens, increases access to school-based clinicians

Updated: Jul. 13, 2021 at 5:00 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The pandemic showed us the resiliency of our kids and also the weight they have carried. A local organization has worked for decades to help area children facing trauma.

Now Child Savers is breaking down barriers to mental health access for youth by adding more resources to help them cope.

Representatives from ChildSavers say, “According to the CDC, children’s mental health-related visits to emergency rooms are up as much as 25%. Racial disparities are creating barriers to services: Research has shown that Black and brown children are less likely than their white peers to have access to mental health care because of a variety of factors, including a lack of insurance and providers in communities, historic mistreatment and inequitable practice by some health care providers, as well as stigma attached to mental health.”

At the worst of times, children in the area are living the stories on the news that we hate to tell. Child Savers shows up to help them through it whether it’s violence, abuse, racism, or any other number of traumas. This year a pandemic uniquely intertwined with a social justice movement, left kids caught in the middle, living and learning in a most unusual and trying time.

In Richmond, ChildSavers is working to break down barriers to mental health access.

  • Thanks to the support from the Ujima Legacy Fund, ChildSavers recently launched group therapy for teens focused on racial identity and race-based stressors.
  • The nonprofit recently expanded its school-based therapy – a program that increases access to trauma-informed mental health services by embedding clinicians in schools – to 10 Richmond Public Schools. 91% of the youth served in the school program are Black.
  • ChildSavers continued its outpatient trauma-informed therapy via in-person and virtual sessions during the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of children who talk about just being stereotyped and racially profiled. Whether it’s being followed around in stores or being called names or being treated differently and things like that. Just the fear of being black and walking down the street by themselves,“ said LaDesha Batten with the immediate response team. “Or possibly interacting with the police or someone else.”

The organization has created group and school-based therapy to help kids and teens through traumatic situations. Recently, launching group therapy for teens focused on racial identity and race-based stressors. Supporting them in finding healthy ways to process all they’re facing and feeling.

“Helping them to validate and normalize what they feel so it’s ok to feel numb and desensitized when you’re constantly seeing the same thing happening over and over to help destigmatize mental health and those experiences that they’re feeling,” Batten said.

“I think the first step is giving them that safe space to process those emotions,” Batten said. “Acknowledging that racism is traumatic and if untreated, it can lead to things such as PTSD or withdrawal or depression or even suicide.

Compounded with the pandemic, and the challenges its’ brought, Child Savers workers know that these therapies are serving a potentially life-saving purpose.

The nonprofit also recently expanded its school-based therapy, which is a program that increases access to trauma-informed mental health services by embedding clinicians in schools.

“Not knowing, just the ambiguity is just kind of traumatic,” Lauren Cave, a School-based Clinician said. “Especially for the kids that have already had trauma. Like they’ve already been through this ambiguous situation before. So there’s a lot of questions about what’s safe. Reestablishing the new normal. Who can I reconnect with because for so long I couldn’t have any connections with anyone.”

Hoping added support for kids leads to healthier outcomes for families.

To support Child Savers, click here.

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