Across the U.S., May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s about shining light on the stigma of getting help, providing resources, and encouraging mental health screenings; highlighting that mental health is just as important as physical health.
In our community, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida (CAC) provides therapeutic counseling through our Family Alliance Program to children who have experienced abuse or neglect, have witnessed or experienced family violence, or a violent crime. CAC advocates that healing can take place through practices like therapy; the mental health of a child who has experienced trauma does not have to be compromised.
Family Alliance is a clinical program that utilizes master’s level mental health professionals to offer services to children and their caregivers. The goal of the program is to reduce abuse-related symptoms, process through the trauma to heal, and return to the level of functioning before the abuse. Family Alliance also teaches prevention, coping, and safety skills to all clients. Every child is given a specialized care plan based on their needs utilizing forms of therapy that have been proven to successfully resolve a broad array of emotional and behavioral difficulties associated with trauma experiences.
“A child’s brain changes after experiencing the traumatic events of abuse. The brain structure and chemical functioning is impacted, making it difficult for children to regulate their emotions, behaviors, impulses, and making it difficult to make sound decisions,” says Kilondra Davis, LMHC, Family Alliance Program Supervisor. “This change is often displayed in a variety of symptoms that may lead to diagnosis of PTSD, Anxiety Disorders, and Depressive Disorders. All of these changes can affect their adulthood. With the help of therapy, the trauma, symptoms, and diagnoses can be treated and assist the child in healing.”
The tie between mental health and abuse happens as a ripple effect, starting with people, moving to family, then to the community, and ultimately to the world. The impact of child traumatic stress can last well beyond childhood. CAC works to stop this ripple effect.
For more information on the Children’s Advocacy Center or treatment options available, please call 239-939-2808. If you would like to support mental health and the children in Southwest Florida, consider making a donation at cac-swfl.org and sign up for the CAC newsletter.
About Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida
Since 1981, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida, Inc. (CAC) has worked to improve the lives of children and their families through a coordinated response to child abuse and neglect, offering them a safe and friendly environment in which to heal. CAC provides abuse determination services as well as therapeutic counseling, parenting education, and prevention programs in Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Charlotte Counties. All services are provided free of charge. For more information, please call 239-939-2808 or visit cac-swfl.org. CAC is a United Way Partner Agency.