Authors: Eric M. Vernberg, USA
Event: 2004 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Describes treatment principles, service delivery model, and changes in adaptive functioning for children enrolled in the Intensive Mental Health Program (IMHP),
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Describes treatment principles, service delivery model, and changes in adaptive functioning for children enrolled in the Intensive Mental Health Program (IMHP), an innovative model for serving children with the most severe forms of SED. The IMHP offers a full range of evidence-based mental health interventions while maintaining the child’s attendance half-day in the referring school. Much direct treatment is provided in half-day therapeutic classrooms housed in standard elementary school buildings, although substantial intervention is also carried out in home, community, and regular education settings. The child’s performance at home and school determines treatment duration, which averages about 12 months. Most children show marked improvements in multiple indicators of role performance and symptomatology. Although a high risk, high need group, about 75% attend school regularly and live with a stable caregiver at discharge. Advantages of this approach relative to common “treatment as usual” practices include affordability, superior coordination of interventions, low stigmatization, and continuity in the child’s relationships with peers and adults. This promising approach requires administrative leadership, flexibility and cooperation on the part of school personnel, mental health providers and social services, but potentially can be adopted more widely in other communities.