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Conference focuses on children's mental health

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The Daily Reflector

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Greenville-based agency that manages mental health services in the eastern part of the state gathered caregivers in Wilmington on Thursday to promote a five-year plan to expand services for children and their new partnership with a program called Child First.

Trillium Health Resources promoted the initiative during the 2020 Child Vision Celebration and Conference, which gathered health care professionals from around the region in Wilmington. The 2020 plan focuses on the array of mental health, substance abuse and intellectual and developmental disability services for children in eastern North Carolina, a news release said.

“Healthier families lead to healthier communities,” Leza Wainwright, Trillium’s CEO, said in the release. “If we can help children with the tools to protect them from some of the toxic elements in our society, like bullying, if we can intervene earlier in children’s lives — to strengthen the child and family unit — hopefully those kids and families grow up not needing our services.”

The initiative involves a collaborative effort between Trillium, its network providers, medical and allied professionals, community partners and advisory boards, hospitals, schools and faith-based organizations, state and federal funders, and the children and families they serve, the news release said.

Kimberly Greer, Trillium’s senior staff psychologist, said that the goal of the initiative is to reduce the gaps in service to children by the year 2020. The initiative was launched in 2014 in Greenville by East Carolina Behavioral Health, which later became Trillium.

“We ultimately want the children and youth in our area to be able to live healthy and meaningful lives,” Greer said, “and to be as independent and self-sufficient as they can be, and to be productive citizens in our community and the community of their choice.

“The Trillium 2020 Child Vision is our effort to try to improve the quality and types of services that we offer in our 24 counties, and we thank you for partnering with us to help us achieve that goal.”

As part of the 2020 Child Vision, Trillium is investing in the Child First program, a nationally recognized, evidence-based, early childhood intervention model that works to prevent or decrease the devastating effects of childhood adversity, the release said.

“Our targeted outcomes in our children are emotional health, emotional regulation, secure attachment, language and cognition, and executive functioning,” said Darcy Lowell, Executive Director of Child First. “And we want to see decreases in Child Protective Services, emergency room utilization and hospitalization, and trauma. For our parents, we want to see nurturing, responsive parenting, emotional regulation, executive functioning and education and employment. And we want to see a decrease in poverty, depression, stress and other mental health problems, substance abuse, domestic violence and homelessness.”

Darrell Scott, who founded Rachel’s Challenge after his daughter was killed during the Columbine High School shooting, spoke about his organization’s efforts to promote compassion and reduce prejudice in schools.

“We have three choices we can make when we are with odds with someone else or another group,” Scott said. “ … We can either hate and retaliate, debate and demonstrate, or we could relate and communicate … If we could just simply take the time to listen to one another … we would see a lot of the problems in our schools, our politics and our nation resolved.”

For more information on 2020 Child Vision, visit http://trilliumhealthresources.org/en/Trillium_Initiative/2020-child-Vision/.

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