Technical Assistance Partnership Newsletter Archives

Feature Articles:

Maine's THRIVE Community Congratulates First Somali Bantu College Graduate
By Nadia Cayce, Region I

Content was summarized from the Sun Journal article (2008): Cheers hail area's first Somali Bantu to earn college degree.

Sheikh MohamedSheikh Mohamed was one of 300 who recently graduated from Central Maine Community College (CMCC). Mohamed was born in Bualle, Somalia, the capital of Middle Jubba, where most people survive by farming. When the civil war broke out, he fled Somalia with his parents. Four years later, at age 19, he returned to Somalia with his parents, but there was more fighting and they were separated. He and a girl he grew up with decided to marry and go back to the refugee camp. The camp was the only way he could continue his education. In 2004, his new family came to the United States, settling in Syracuse, New York. The change was alarming. Due to the conditions in Syracuse, Mohamed decided to move his family to Lewiston, Maine. There he became a community leader in the Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association. He enrolled full-time at CMCC and later went on to work for Tri-County Mental Health Services. Now that he has an associate's degree in liberal arts, Mohamed plans to enroll at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College to pursue a four-year degree in nursing. He'll continue mentoring Somali Bantu youth, and hopes to reach out to those in middle and high school.
» Read the full article.

One Community Partnership in Broward County, Florida Holds Youth Summit
By Bruce Strahl, Region II

In early June, the Teen Advocacy Coalition (TAC) conducted a Mental Health Anti-stigma Campaign and Youth Summit with the assistance of One Community Partnership in Broward County, Florida. The campaign was designed to decrease the negative attitudes that surround mental illness and encourage young adults to support their friends who are living with mental health problems. The overall goal was to educate the community regarding mental illness, allowing them to change their perceptions about people who suffer from this disease and reduce the stigma towards people with behavioral health needs. The event, held at Nova Southeastern University, welcomed over 160 people including the media and the Miami Heat mascot. Prior to the event, Jarvis, the president and long standing member of TAC was interviewed by a reporter from the local newspaper. Others interviewed included Justin from Ft. Lauderdale Hospital aftercare treatment and other community members, such as an employer from the Storks café, where the aftercare group meets on Tuesdays for their support group sessions.

Image of youth at playBroward County mental health service providers supported the campaign by sponsoring outreach tables that provided information about their agencies and the services that can be accessed by the community regarding behavioral health. Presentations for workshops were conducted by various youth coalitions, school board employers, mental health agencies, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, United Way of Broward County, Nova Southeastern University, Family Voices for Family Choice and recipients of mental health services. Performances were provided by youth and adults from the community and schools. The performances varied from poetry slams, to rap, to the playing of various musical instruments. Youth and adults were able to win numerous raffle prizes which included MP3 players, color printers, gift cards to various restaurants, DVD players, and much more.

The campaign also allowed TAC youth, schools, and the community to participate in the X-Press Ya Self art gallery. The gallery represented people's view of mental illness. A group called the Write Side Poets also participated in the art show by mounting masks on the walls that were molded by the faces of the youth who wrote poetry. CD players were placed by each mask allowing viewers to listen to the actual poem that was written by the faces behind the masks. For more information contact Tamara Moore, Youth Coordinator, at tmoore@broward.org or Scott Silverman, Project Director, at ssilverman@broward.org.

Northeastern Iowa Community Circles of Care Aides Divided Families
By Frank Rider, Region III

Crying young girlA May 12 immigration raid at the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant has challenged northeastern Iowa's Community Circle of Care to help meet an array of primary needs of children and families impacted by that enforcement action.

About 300 workers at the Agriprocessors Inc. complex in Postville, Iowa remain detained since the raid. A community partnership has emerged to address basic survival and safety needs of their families (who are primarily immigrants from Guatemala and their children). The Community Circle of Care team has been active in the community's response by helping to ensure humane, trauma-informed awareness that has minimized and mitigated the predictable impact this trauma has had on children and families now suddenly separated (see the Urban Institute's article entitled, Children Left Behind: What Happens to Children After Immigration Raids? and their 2007 report, Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America's Children, for useful understanding of such trauma impacts).

The area education agency, churches, and child welfare systems have all played key roles in helping to support and reassure the families during these tumultuous weeks. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services officials were persuaded to allow detainees to attend to immediate child care needs and the community has rallied to furnish food and other primary supplies, legal support, and mental health support for affected families. [Community members clarified their ability to support the children and families within legal guidelines that prevent them from harboring or transporting (except to and from supportive services) undocumented individuals.]

The Community Circle of Care sought assistance from the Technical Assistance Partnership to be able to better understand and share knowledge about key cultural considerations of the Guatemalan families that might impact the effectiveness of support efforts. Clinicians and other helpers who are fluent in Guatemalan dialects of Spanish were recruited from neighboring Minnesota and Wisconsin and remain on-hand to provide direct assistance.

Mother and sonRemarkably, the community's support for families has meant that no children have needed protective custody through the child welfare system. However, even classmates and teachers of children have reported secondary impacts of the children's direct trauma. The Community Circle of Care is furnishing parent support groups as well as training for local educators, Head Start and day care personnel, community members, and families. The Community Circle of Care hopes to increase awareness around the dynamics of trauma and inform people as to the means to manage its effects, as behavioral reactions are becoming increasingly evident throughout the community's children in the aftermath of the Postville raid.

Many systems of care are susceptible to similar Immigration and Naturalization Services enforcement actions and several more (e.g. St. Cloud, Minnesota and Ingham County, Michigan) are designated Refugee Resettlement communities. The THRIVE system of care in Lewiston, Maine—home to a significant Somali and Somali Bantu refugee population—is now planning an October conference, "Healing Invisible Wounds: Paths To Hope In A Violent World," to explore implications for treatment and support for families in refugee and immigration situations. THRIVE is inviting interested individuals from other communities to help plan this conference. Please contact project director Arabella Perez (aperez@tcmhs.org) or Nadia Cayce, RTAC, (ncayce@ffcmh.org) if you wish to be involved in that promising learning opportunity.

Wyoming Sage System of Care Community Shares Personal Narratives Through Photovoice
By Stephany Bryan, Region IV

An example of a photovoice projectThe Wyoming SAGE Photovoice Project is an advocacy, research, and education component of the Wyoming SAGE System of Care. Through photographs and personal narratives, children, youth, young adults, parents, and guardians are given the opportunity to share their stories and experiences. Photovoice is a method that enables people to define for themselves and others, including policymakers, what is worth remembering and what needs to be changed. It is a multi-step process that combines photography, research, group interaction, storytelling, and social activism. Photovoice assumes that the individuals behind the lens have the richest knowledge of their experiences and are the best persons to convey this very personalized account of their lives.

The Wyoming SAGE Photovoice Project is an ongoing initiative throughout the State to promote advocacy, education, and community-based research in children's mental health. Wyoming SAGE Photovoice Projects from youth, young adults, and parents/guardians have been displayed at legislative receptions, Children's Mental Health Awareness Week activities, local coffee houses, and at a university art gallery. Photovoice participants have presented their work at IEP meetings, school board meetings, local systems of care meetings, and national presentations. Photovoice images and stories have also been included in an annual calendar that was distributed among policymakers throughout the State. To date, over 80 individuals have participated in The Wyoming SAGE Photovoice Project. For additional information and examples of Photovoice projects contact Kent Becker at kwbecker@uwyo.edu.

Los Angeles, California's Project ABC Introduces the My Feelings Activity Book
By Becky Ornelas, Region V

My Feelings book cover

Project ABC, an early childhood mental health system of care site, released their newly created My Feelings Activity Book as part of their "Relationships Matter" campaign in observance of National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day. The activity book is designed to help very young children identify their feelings and learn how to put them into words. The book is for preschool-aged children and is to be read aloud to them by parents, caregivers, preschool teachers, clergy, social workers, therapists, or any other helping professional.

» Download a free copy of the activity book: English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)

Dr. William Arroyo, Medical director of Child, Youth and Family Administration of Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, said, "National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day provided an important opportunity for our community to show how young children with mental health needs, as well as their families, thrive when they have the right supports and services available." Project ABC's early childhood mental health services address all areas of development and actively involve parents and families in the promotion of children's emotional well-being. Since parents are their children's first teachers and role models, providing parents with tools to help them teach their children, particularly about emotions, makes sense.

Naturally, modeling acceptable expressions of emotions when in the presence of their children is essential, but reading to children about feelings is also vital. Early exposure to the concept of feelings is important to a young child's social and emotional well-being. A child who can learn how to control his impulses, learn how to cooperate, and to socialize at an early age develops a healthy sense of self-confidence and competence in his environment. You can access Project ABC's Web site for other resources developed by them to help educate families, providers, and policymakers about the need for infant and early childhood mental health services that utilize a relationship-based approach

Project ABC is designed to create a system of care for young children who are in need of mental health services in the Los Angeles, California area. Project ABC is a collaboration of the