Leadership Engage Class of 2017 Views Health and Human Services Through the Eyes of a Child
By Karin Daly; Photos by Lisa Williams-Taylor
What was the important issue/debate discussed during Health and Human Services Day? What is the
best way to solve or address the issue?
It is paramount that we all work to understand and address the needs of children and families with a wide array of services. Children are the most vulnerable members of our society, and they rely on the adults in the room to be adults – to stand up for them, keep them healthy and whole, protect them from the ills of our world and educate them to eventually be able stand up on their own. Nonprofits play a large role, and we learned that we should work to rename these organizations “Social Impact Agencies (SIA’s) , a far better handle than ‘nonprofit’ which describes only their financial status. The SIA’s demonstrated the need to provide support to children and families starting before pregnancy and extending throughout childhood – creating a strong bridge to adulthood. We all need to work together to help the parents be better parents , to help educate to make right choices, to provide protection against predators, to ensure families have access to good nutritious food, and to provide mental health support.
What was the second most important issue/debate discussed during the Session Day? What is the best way to solve or address the issue?
One of the most overlooked areas of health and human services is the support of mental health. The class heard from several Social Impact Agencies (SIAs) and facilities that provide care and services for a wide range of mental health needs. Support starts at pregnancy. The class learned that approximately 1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum mood disorders and 20% of those women have considered suicide. It is the number one complication of childbirth. After touring Sandy Pines, a mental health facility for children as young as age 5, the class learned that 20% of youth have considered suicide, and 19% have thought of hurting themselves. They also learned that trauma creates changes to architecture of the brain. Trauma can be anything from abuse, neglect, divorce, death in the family, an imprisoned parent, etc and that it is key to intervene early. But many of those suffering trauma lack the ability to get the help they need. The class also experienced what it might be like to spend a few minutes in the shoes of schizophrenic –listening to voices that simulated what someone with that affliction might hear, while taking on everyday tasks like a visit to the pharmacist. Importantly, we learned to ask ‘what has happened to you’ rather than ‘what is wrong with you’ when dealing with anyone who exhibits questionable behavior. Empathy is key.
What can the broader leadership community do to solve/address these issues?
As a group, we can use the eye-opening learning of the day to spread awareness. We can audit our own spending and charitable giving/volunteerism to consider the areas covered, where the needs are always bigger than the resources available. We can sign up in smaller groups or with our other organizations to cook for the Quantum families for a night. We can skip Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts a few days a week and contribute that to the homeless or hungry. We can show more compassion to those around us suffering from mental health issues.
We can use our networks, our brains, our community and the organizations we are members of to get active, think big and give back. We can encourage partnerships at the intersection of ‘non-profits’ (SIA’s), academia, government and business to tackle problems in practical, non-partisan, sustainable ways.
Ultimately, we can learn to live our lives in a more conscious way, with gratitude for the things we do have, and with understanding and compassion for those suffering in our world, be it from mental health issues, food insecurity, abuse or neglect, or other burdens of life.
The Class of 2017 (the most warm and sensitive class ever) would like to thank the following groups for sharing their time, energy and passion during Health and Human Services Day:
Quantum House, Families First of PBC, 211, PBC Community Services Dept, Farris Foundation, The Lord’s Place, St. Mary’s Hospital, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, The Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Sandy Pines, Voices (Helen Dickey, MD), CROS Ministries, United Way, Center for Child Counseling, Family Promise North/Central. Thank you, all!