Mental Health

MENTAL HEALTH

The Community Action, Inc. Head Start Program embraces a prevention-based, holistic approach to mental health and wellness by promoting collaborative relationships among children, families, staff, mental health professionals, and the larger community, in order to enhance awareness and understanding of mental wellness through information and services. Our program accomplishes this vision through activities such as the following:

  • Providing parents with preventative information regarding mental health and mental wellness
  • Making intervention services and treatment available as needed
  • Promoting family activities and time for families to enjoy one another
  • Providing opportunities for parents to dicuss concerns they may have regarding their child and family’s mental wellness
  • Making mental health services available to all children, families and staff through a licensed mental health professional who has extensive experience with young children and their families
  • Including mental health activities in the Early Head Start/Head Start daily program
  • Providing mental health information, resources and services for pre and post-natal women

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is how we think, feel, and act in order to face life situations. It is how we look at ourselves, our lives, and the people that we care about. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, evaluate our options and make choices. Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life.

Mental Health in the Classroom

EHS/HS staff provide many opportunities to encourage positive mental health by maintaining a supportive classroom environment, based on positive behavior management and mental health observational feedback.

Opportunities to explore mental health with creative art, sand, water, music, doll houses, and dramatic play are provided daily to allow children opportunities to express their feelings. EHS/HS staff are sensitive to changes in children’s behavior, behavior unusual for the child or traumatic events known to have occurred, and are provided guidance by the Mental Health Coordinator on ways to best support the child and family. Classroom curriculums that focus on child mental health are also utilized. These include Super Star Program, Second Step, and Talking About Touching: A Personal Safety Curriculum.

Mental Health for the Family

Each family is provided with a Resource Guide that contains referral information concerning mental health issues such as family violence, substance abuse, family counseling, and mental illness. Information pertaining to Mental Health is available to parents at Parent Committee Meetings, through a presentation, resource information, home visits, and community partners. Short-term discussion and behavioral problem solving techniques are also provided as appropriate to parents and staff.

Parents are made aware of mental health services available to them at the time of enrollment and all families are provided with information about the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect. Research-based parent education opportunities are provided through parenting classes and family home visits. Multiple curriculums are utilized as services for parents provided, including Parents As Teachers, a parent education and family support program that supports families throughout pregnancy until their child enters kindergarten, usually age 5. Participating families receive personal visits in addition to parent group meetings.

Parents are supported by Family Advocates who are PAT-certified parent educators trained to translate scientific information on early brain development into specific when, what how and why advice for families. By understanding what to expect during each stage of development, parents can easily capture the teachable moments in everyday life to enhance their child’s language development, intellectual growth, social development and motor skills. Other curriculums are available as well.

Classroom Curriculums that focus on child mental health are also utilized

The Super Star Program allows each child to be the designated “special” person.  Parents participate by contributing to the child’s bulletin board.  Art work that the child has done is displayed.  The child’s family is invited to lunch.  The program involves parental participation and involvement to help enhance positive self-esteem for the child, model positive behavioral skills for parents, and encourage healthy family interactions (all EHS/HS 0-5 yrs).

Second Step is a research-based violence prevention program that provides engaging lessons and activities that teach essential social skills such as problem solving, emotion management, impulse control, and empathy.

Talking About Touching: A Personal Safety Curriculum uses time-honored, developmentally appropriate teaching techniques to help children learn safety skills. These include refusing and reporting unsafe touches but also encompass basic safety skills (such as for cars, bikes, and fire) as well as the Always Ask First Rule. It’s a great way to talk to young children about sensitive but essential topics.

Mental Health for the Family
Each family is provided with a Resource Guide that contains referral information concerning mental health issues such as: family violence, substance abuse, family counseling and mental illness.

Information pertaining to Mental Health is available to parents at Parent Committee Meetings, including a presentation and resource information.

Short-term discussion and behavioral problem solving techniques are also provided as appropriate to parents and staff.

Parents are made aware of mental health services available to them at the time of enrollment.

All families are provided with information about the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect.

Research-Based parent education opportunities are provided through parenting classes and family home visits. Multiple curriculums are utilized as services for parents.

Child Abuse

Texas law says anyone who thinks a child, or person 65 years or older, or an adult with disabilities is being abused, neglected, or exploited must report it to DFPS. A person who reports abuse in good faith is immune from civil or criminal liability. DFPS keeps the name of the person making the report confidential. Anyone who does not report suspected abuse can be held liable for a misdemeanor or felony. Time frames for investigating reports are based on severity of allegations. Reporting suspected child abuse makes it possible for a family to get help.

What is Child Abuse?  To help prevent child abuse, you need to understand what it is. It’s any mistreatment of a child that results in harm or injury. There are four basic types of child abuse, though a child who is being abused  often experiences more than one kind.

Physical Abuse Physical abuse includes actions such as beating, burning, or punching a child.

Emotional Abuse Emotional abuse may involve criticizing, insulting, rejecting, or withholding love from a child.

Sexual Abuse Sexual abuse includes rape, touching or fondling, or involving a child in pornography.

Neglect Neglect includes failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, medical, emotional, or educational needs. Leaving a young child home alone or failing to provide needed medical care may also be considered neglect.

Mental Health Services Consultant
Jennifer McCulley
(512)396-3395 X 206
jmcculley@communityaction.com

Resources

Parents As Teachers Parents as Teachers (PAT) is a parent education and family support program serving families throughout pregnancy until their child enters kindergarten, usually age 5. Participating families receive personal visits in addition to parent group meetings.

Parents are supported by PAT-certified parent educators trained to translate scientific information on early brain development into specific when what how and why advice for families. By understanding what to expect during each stage of development, parents can easily capture the teachable moments in everyday life to enhance their child’s language development, intellectual growth, social development and motor skills.

Nurturing Parenting The Nurturing Parenting Programs are family-centered initiative designed to build nurturing parenting skills as an alternative to abusive and neglecting parenting and child-rearing.

Love and Logic Love and Logic is a philosophy of raising and teaching children which allows adults to be happier, empowered, and more skilled in the interactions with children. Love allows children to grow through their mistakes. Logic allows children to live with the consequences of their choices. Love and Logic is a way of working with children that puts parents and teachers back in control, teaches children to be responsible, and prepares young people to live in the real world, with its many choices and consequences.

Love and Logic offers adults an alternative way to communicate with children. The Love and Logic techniques produce immediate results because the techniques are simple, practical, and easy to learn. The concepts behind Love and Logic place a heavy emphasis on respect and dignity for children and at the same time allow parents to grasp simple approaches instead of learning difficult counseling procedures.

Texas Association for Infant Mental Health
Zero to Three
Help for Parents Hope for Kids
Screening for Mental Health
Choosing the Best Child Care
Texas Department of State Health Services
Critical Mental Health Resources for College Students
Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning
Head Start Mental Health Page