Online Program

Improving family-centered mental health care by supporting siblings of children and adolescents admitted for psychiatric hospitalization

Monday, November 4, 2013

Emily Rubin, MA, Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center of UMass Medical School, Waltham, MA
Elisa Friedman, MS, Institute for Community Health, Cambridge, MA
Adele Pressman, MD, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA
Kathleen Regan, BSN, MHA, NE-BC, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA
Heidi Katz, MA DMT, Whidden Campus, Cambridge Health Alliance, Everett, MA
Hillary Black, BA, Couples and Family Clinic, Central Street Health Center, Cambridge Health Alliance, Somerville, MA
Jacob Venter, MD, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA
All communities are affected by mental illness, yet there is a widely recognized lack of services for siblings of children with mental illness. These siblings live in a world of unpredictability, “walking on eggshells,” often subjected to physical and verbal aggression from the affected child, and are at risk for developing maladaptive behavior. The Sibling Support Demonstration Project, developed at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at UMass Medical School, is a mental health care initiative that fills a critical service gap for these siblings and their parents/caregivers. Project goals are: To increase sibling resiliency and decrease trauma during and following a child's psychiatric hospitalization; to increase parental awareness of how siblings may be affected and facilitate effective coping strategies; to help restore family stability following a psychiatric hospitalization; reduce readmission rates; and to increase awareness among medical practitioners in the delivery of family-centered mental health care. Interventions include sibling support groups led by medical trainees, and parent/caregiver education groups facilitated by parent mentors. The project is ongoing at Cambridge Health Alliance, a safety net hospital based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. From December 2011 through December 2012, 250 participants were served, with a 100% response rate in data collection. The project is extremely well received by families, clinicians and staff: 98% of parents/caregivers report they would recommend the parent group, with 88% reported being “very satisfied”. The majority of siblings enthusiastically report they would recommend the sibling group as well. Implications for programs delivering family-centered mental health care will be discussed.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
Describe the impact of a child/adolescent's psychiatric hospitalization on family members. List 3 strategies, learned from the project, to support siblings of children/adolescents who are admitted for psychiatric hospitalization. Discuss how recommendations from the Sibling Support Demonstration Project can be applied to mental health programs serving children and adolescents.

Keyword(s): Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Mental Health Services

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As Director of Sibling Support at UMass Medical School, I designed the Sibling Support Demonstration Project and am overseeing implementation of the pilot at Cambridge Health Alliance. I am also collaborating with the Children's Hospital in Boston to launch the project at BCH in the fall of 2013.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.