School of Social Work creates program for youths

first_imgLos Angeles County and the USC School of Social Work are now offering at-home mental health services for at-risk youth aged 12 to 21. This online mental health service is designed for youth who experience mild to moderate psychiatric symptoms, depression, anxiety disorders, trauma or other mental health concerns.Operated by USC Telehealth and the School of Social Work, this online program will match licensed social workers and Masters of Social Work interns with at-risk youth. These therapy sessions will occur via Citrix, a secure internet platform that operates much like Skype.“The county will identify youth to participate in this project, providing them with virtual mental health services which act as preventative measures to keep them out of the child welfare system,” L.A. County Health Deputy Karla Sayles said. “With this new project, we hope to keep youth who are at risk of entering the foster care system stabilized and with their families.”To gain access to these services, youth can refer themselves to the Department of Children and Family Services or be referred by members of their community who are concerned about their domestic lives. Once an individual is referred, an investigation of the child’s home life is conducted and the department determines if the youth is at-risk. If it is determined that the youth is struggling with mental health issues that his or her family is unable to provide for, the child will be referred to the Department of Mental Health which will then offer services to address the individual’s needs.USC School of Social Work Dean Marilyn Flynn highlighted the importance of serving children in particular.“It makes sense to help people at the earliest stage,” Flynn said. “It is not that older adults are not suffering — they are — but this is very much a prevention measure in the sense that if we provide support, a sense of hope and alternatives to people in their early years, then the benefits and protective factors will last a lifetime.”Flynn also noted that this program offers a way for individuals who feel uncomfortable with traditional in-person therapy sessions or who do not have adequate transportation to receive aid.“People differ a lot in the way they like to receive help. Some people may not want to walk to a clinic or be seen in a waiting room,” Flynn said. “This element of anonymity at-home services offer acts as a form of protection that is especially meaningful to certain individuals.”Flynn also explained that online services give the patient a sense of power and comfort.“People often feel more in control when using telemental health,” Flynn said. “Maybe it is because they can turn off the screen when they want to, or maybe it is because the sessions are occurring in the comfort of their own homes.”Sayles emphasized that by introducing technology to change the way mental health services are offered, a greater number of struggling individuals can receive the assistance they need.“Technology makes this service accessible for people of this generation because youth these days are used to getting answers quickly and engaging with people over social media,” Sayles said. “This program is particularly in line with this generation because it gives individuals access to mental health services when and where they need it.”last_img

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