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HSC holds symposium on childhood adversity []


The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center recently held a symposium to generate ideas for the state to address childhood adversity. As reported in this piece, New Mexico ranks 49th in the Nation for child well-being, and many of the ideas generated at this symposium focused on improvements to working with families experiencing adversity.

Hsi said he feels the childhood protective system would benefit from “sustaining funding for a decade to see if we can make a difference,” as opposed to the fluctuating funding levels that occur with legislative seat changes every two, four and six years.

While each speaker proposed different solutions to New Mexico’s childhood well-being concerns, they shared the same sentiments in regards to parental treatment: that children would benefit most when their family is treated as a whole.

“These parents are usually people who have undergone their own trauma, their own bad parenting,” Mennen said.

Whether it be through parent-infant psychotherapy, an increase in in-home visitations or substance abuse programs for parents, Hsi said continuous care for families for a minimum of four years would be beneficial.

Hsi suggested making “trauma-informed systems of care” — that is, making the medical, educational and legal systems in our country more adept at handling the experiences and needs of traumatized individuals.

Click here to read the entire piece by Hannah Eisenberg.

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I have long been advocating for treating parents when a child is brought to us as mental health professionals. As a child and adolescent psychiatrist who is also Board Certified in Adult psychiatry and trained in family therapy, I actually consider myself a "family psychiatrist." I do not send parents elsewhere to be treated. My evaluation includes parental evaluations (family histories) and the traumata and losses they have suffered (including serious health problems). Children are not raised in an emotional vacuum. Acknowledging parents' ACEs makes them feel validated and better understood. By facilitating their healing they become more empathetic and attuned parents. Then they do the work of healing and raising their children. I consider this where we get the "best bang for the bucks!" Support families in their emotional wellness journey.

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