Patrice Munford meets Baltimore families at their most challenging moments. As a therapist with Catholic Charities’ Baltimore Child and Adolescent Response System (B-CARS) program, she works every day with children and families to help them deal with crisis situations. With Baltimore experiencing prolonged spikes in both violence and opioid related overdose deaths, the many children in the city face enormous chaos and stress.
“We have a lot of children who don’t know how to cope with the violence in their lives,” says Munford. “They may not know how to verbalize their feelings. They’ve had multiple deaths in their family due to homicide or overdose, and they don’t know how to cope.”
With financial and other support from Behavioral Health System Baltimore (BHSB), B-CARS provides hands-on services to children and adolescents who are in crisis and their families. The goal is to stabilize the young person and create a plan to help the family over the long term. At B-CARS, a licensed clinician assesses the young people for mental health and other health issues, and B-CARS’ staff provides ongoing counseling. That often means visiting the home to meet with family members — a better location to have a more honest conversation about the crisis — or going to the school to hear from teachers and counselors. B-CARS therapists make recommendations for ongoing services, including mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment, and grief counseling. And B-CARS connects families with organizations that provide case management services to help the families stay on track with counseling and other supports.
See Past the Stigma
The stigma associated with mental illness and substance use prevents people from getting care and seeking support from family and friends. BHSB's See Past The Stigma Campaign calls out this harmful stigma by encouraging and normalizing conversations about behavioral health. Look for our See Past The Stigma campaign this May for Mental Health Awareness Month. Keep an eye out for the campaign on public transit! Learn more about how you can help fight stigma at: www.seepastthestigma.org.
The first week in May is Children’s Mental Health Matters! Week. It’s a time to raise awareness about the importance of understanding and supporting children’s mental health. Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. The earlier children receive support for their mental health the better. Check out this website to find resources and events near you!