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Day program targets disturbed youth

Seriously emotionally-disturbed youth in southwest Mississippiare getting the attention of mental health workers hoping to reachout to them through a new program.

Employees of Southwest Mississippi Mental Health Children’sDivision attended a training session Friday about how to establishand maintain a day treatment program.

Day treatment is a therapeutic service designed for youth whoare at risk for going into in-patient treatment facilities orjuvenile detention centers.

“It’s kind of like group therapy, but more intensive,” saidAndrew Day, director of day treatment services for the Departmentof Mental Health, who presided over the training session.

Through the day treatment program, a team of therapists, casemanagers and day treatment specialists work in the school system tomeet with students classified as seriouslyemotionally-disturbed.

“We are hoping to expand to Lincoln County,” said Children’sService Director (East) Diowanni Tate. “I’ve contacted some of theprincipals, so hopefully they will want to get involved.”

In Mississippi, 300 day treatment programs already exist throughcommunity mental health centers, and over half of those are locatedin school settings.

The closest day treatment programs serve Adams, Jefferson andWalthall Counties. A day treatment program is being started inLawrence County and Franklin County School Districts this year.

The programs help reach more children in need because it helpsdiagnose students, as well as reduces transportation forparents.

“The Department of Mental Health Children Youth Services isexcited about the efforts that the Region 11 Commissioners aremaking to promote and expand children’s mental health servicesthroughout their region,” said Day.

He believes day treatment programs are very effective inlessening the need for in-patient treatment, allowing children tostay in familiar surroundings while obtaining treatment.

“This program is designed to keep the children in theircommunity,” said Tate.

Clients meet regularly in a school setting with mental healththerapists and assistants to evaluate behaviors and work to improvetheir condition.