The statistics are sobering. Rates of depression, anxiety and suicide among teens are on the rise, and by the time children reach the age of 17, more than 70 percent will have experienced at least one traumatic event, such as physical or sexual abuse or witnessing serious violence in their home or community.
Schools and pediatricians say they are seeing more children struggling, with more intensive needs. Too often, many state’s children and families of color suffer at disproportionate levels. Yet despite these facts, people know that children are resilient and that with the right services and supports in place, they can recover from trauma and mental health conditions. People need to know that effective treatments exist.
Not all mental health clinicians are delivering the same treatments for the same concerns. Relatively structured treatments with the highest degree of evidence for producing positive outcomes, or “evidence-based treatments,” can be contrasted with what we refer to as “usual care,” which refers to less structured talk therapy based on a clinician’s education, training and years of clinical experience.
Over the past decade, Connecticut has invested significantly in increasing the availability of EBTs, particularly in models designed to help children and their families recover from trauma. Two examples are Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and the Modular Approach to Therapy with Children (MATCH). Hundreds of mental health clinicians in Connecticut have received specialized training to deliver these and other EBTs to thousands of children across the state from all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Since 2009, more than 12,000 children in Connecticut have received one of the nine EBTs that the Child Health and Development Institute has helped to disseminate with help from state grants. We recently examined data from more than 45,000 children receiving two different types of treatment — EBTs and usual care — in 25 Connecticut-based outpatient clinics between 2011 and 2017. Here’s what we found:
Although children receiving both types of treatment showed improvements, the EBTs resulted in higher reductions in problem severity and higher improvements in functioning than usual care. EBTs also reduced or eliminated treatment outcome disparities by race and ethnicity. White, black and Latinx children demonstrated equivalent improvements when they received an EBT, which was not the case for usual care. In some cases, black and Latinx children receiving EBTs had higher rates of improvement than white children.
Read more at the HartfordCourant.com.