Impact Stories

Your Gifts At Work

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An Emotional Wellness Journey for the Whole Family

"CHC helped me break down the barriers and the stigma surrounding mental health, and I became aware that it is important for every single person to address and nurture their own mental health."

"I owe my family's wellness journey to CHC. Anxiety is an issue that has been passed down throughout several generations of my family, and I never realized this until I saw my daughter exhibit anxious behaviors that concerned me. I didn't think much of it because my daughter, age 3 at the time, was so bright and very well adapted socially with peers and adults. Thanks to CHC's Community Education resources, I became more aware of psychological concerns in children. I continued being compassionate with her and tried to understand her emotional needs. After all, I did see part of myself in her.

Fast forward 5 years to my first anxiety attack in 2019. It shook my world. I began regular therapy immediately for the first time in my life at age 42. It was then that I started my own emotional recovery. Since then, my life has been turned upside down, but I'm able to cope despite the challenges that lie ahead. I soon realized that my family's intergenerational trauma and lack of emotional awareness play a huge part in who we are. I am now dedicated to improving our emotional wellbeing and have a newfound sense of freedom and direction.

CHC helped me break down the barriers and the stigma surrounding mental health, and I became aware that it is important for every single person to address and nurture their own mental health.

Forever grateful."

—A CHC Client and Partner

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Jazmin Finds Joy in the Classroom

A student shines under Sand Hill School and CHC's integrated care approach.

Daniela was worried about her daughter Jazmin. Her once creative and happy child had become noticeably more defiant and disruptive in class—especially during reading time. When Daniela heard CHC was offering a free parent education workshop in Spanish called "Manejando Comportamientos Difíciles [Managing Difficult Behaviors]," she put it on her calendar.

During the session she learned that Jazmin's behavior could be the result of a larger issue having to do with her style of learning and probably anxiety, as well. She came away with a few techniques she could use right away to help Jazmin manage her behaviors. She also signed up at the end of the class for a follow up consultation with the CHC clinician.

The next steps provided by CHC uncovered that Jazmin had made it all the way to 3rd grade without anyone noticing a major issue: she had dyslexia.

More than anything, Daniela wanted her daughter to feel successful and to be happy again. She did not know much about dyslexia and anxiety, but she continued to meet with CHC's bilingual clinicians to understand how she could help Jazmin. She learned about CHC's Sand Hill School—a school that specializes in helping kids like Jazmin learn how to read. She applied to Sand Hill and completed the financial aid forms.

When Daniela got the news that her daughter had been accepted to the school with nearly a full financial scholarship, she broke down into tears—so glad her daughter was finally going to get the support she needed.

Jazmin started immediately and adjusted quickly to her new school environment. She made friends and began to learn how to read for the first time in her life. All the kids were just like her, so no one made fun of her anymore. Her teacher shared:

"Since Jazmin started at Sand Hill School, she has made remarkable progress. Her growth and newfound love of reading is especially exciting. She enters class each day with a smile."

Jazmin is back on track and on her way.

The Sand Hill Scholarship Fund was launched thanks to the philanthropic leadership of John Kriewall and Betsy Haehl, whose generosity and partnership with CHC helped start Sand Hill School in 2011. We realize that not every family whose child is a fit for Sand Hill School can afford a Sand Hill School education. The Sand Hill School Scholarship Fund will help change that.

At CHC, we are dedicated to removing barriers to learning, providing services for ADHD, Learning Differences, Anxiety & Depression and Autism through our two schools, clinical services and community education programs.

Learn more about CHC's Sand Hill School.

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How the Early Support Program for Autism Helps Parents Connect with their Kids

ESPA parent trainer Gina Baldi, MEd walks us through the program. Her advice? "Don't wait."

What is the Early Support Program for Autism (ESPA)?
ESPA is a joint program between Children's Health Council and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. ESPA started in 2013 and offers two primary services to parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parent Education and Guidance in Navigating Educational and Healthcare Systems. Parents learn about ESPA from other parents, clinicians, pediatricians and schools.

What is your role?
I am a parent trainer for ESPA. My role is to work with parents to support their child's needs. We use developmental techniques that help parents connect with their child and create opportunities to teach through back and forth interaction. I also help parents understand the sometimes daunting process of finding services for their child who has received an autism diagnosis. Parents can be overwhelmed and want to know what they can do right away. In each of our meetings, parents acquire take-away techniques to support their child's development.

Families referred to me participate in four 1:1 parent education sessions. The topics we cover in our sessions include: Attention and Motivation, Sensory Social Activities and Sensory Integration, Building Imitation and Nonverbal Language, Functional Verbal Language and Turn Taking. There are no time constraints for the program so parents can spread out the sessions over weeks, months, or even years. We make the sessions as accessible as possible by meeting with parents in person at CHC's Palo Alto and San Jose offices or by phone or Skype. We've had parents drive from hours away to meet with us, and we have received calls from parents around the world.

In addition to the parent sessions, I also lead monthly parent education and support groups that cover topics of interest to our parents such as Behavior, Anxiety, Social Skills, Sleep Issues, Nutrition, Public Benefits and Financial Planning.

What's your favorite part of your job?
Parenting is a tough job—period. Receiving a diagnosis for a child adds another dimension of complexity. Whether newly diagnosed, awaiting a diagnosis, or seeking support for an older child that has been diagnosed for a number of years, the favorite part of my job is supporting parents through this difficult process. The whole approach we use is based on the idea that the child is unconditionally loved and accepted just as they are. There are no limitations to what their child can learn and what they can do. I teach parents to be in the moment, connect with their child, and get to know their child. Once connected, we have the opportunity to teach.

What are the most unique aspects of ESPA?
It's 100% free (thanks to generous support from the John & Marcia Goldman Foundation), available in Spanish and English, and most importantly, there is no wait list. We make time for everyone. So many programs out there have extensive wait lists—we respond quickly.

We say "early support" because the goal is to work with parents of children under five who receive an Autism diagnosis. The need is so high for all age groups that we've worked with parents of a child as young as three months and as old as fifteen. In the first meeting, we talk about programming, what's out there, and how to access services. We also connect them to other parents who are further along in the process.

What advice do you have for parents who think their child might be on the autism spectrum?
Don't wait. Parents with concerns about their child's development could be on an ABA wait list for months up to a year. That waiting period is critical time that they could be engaging with their child, learning techniques, building a support network, and making progress. The earlier we can start working with the family, the better the outcome. Call ESPA. No diagnosis needed.

Here's what one ESPA client has to say…

"I am amazed this program is being offered and at no cost. This is the most valuable information I have received. Gina is much more than an educator of information. She is a support system that I don't believe exist anywhere else for me and my family. She is easy to talk to and gives excellent guidance for me to immediately implement techniques that work. I continue to be in shock and awe that this program exists and the very high level of quality of the program. Pinch me."

Learn more at chconline.org/ESPA.

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Teen Mental Health: Notes from Dr. Ramsey Khasho

CHC's experienced team is ready to help teens and families overcome challenges throughout the adolescent journey.

Since the launch of the Teen Mental Health Initiative (TMHI) in 2016, CHC has continued its commitment to increasing awareness, removing stigma, connecting those in need to those who can help and reducing teen suicide. We know therapy works and CHC is just a call away. Just two years later, nearly 1,300 teens came to CHC for therapy—a 25% increase over last year.

Free parent and teacher education continues to be a top priority. This year CHC introduced a series of new classes about important teen topics like building resilience in teens, parenting wired teens and helping teens cope with anxiety. We saw an increase of 68% in free 30-minute parent consultations, meaning parents felt more comfortable reaching out to CHC experts for advice and support.

One of the early objectives of the initiative was to open Palo Alto's first Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) to provide support to teens ages 14-18 during the often overlooked but essential middle ground between weekly outpatient therapy and inpatient hospitalization. CHC can help teens struggling with a more severe case of anxiety and depression as well as those with a history of self-harm and/or suicidal thoughts.

In 2017, we did just that. Our first cohort of teen patients took it upon themselves to name it RISE—Reaching Interpersonal & Self Effectiveness. This represents one of the primary goals of Dialectical Behavior Therapy and a cornerstone of the program.

The RISE IOP is based on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)—an evidence-based, research-supported treatment for individuals with severe anxiety and depression including suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Teens learn specific skills to stay alive, including mindfulness, distress tolerance and emotional regulation. Also critical to the program's success is a robust family component so parents/caregivers can develop the skills necessary to support their teens at home.

Our goal is to teach teens to continue to integrate DBT into daily life after the IOP to help reduce unsafe thoughts and behaviors. One teen recently reflected:

"I've been able to better cope and react in certain situations. Before the IOP my first thought or urge was a problem behavior, but now I've realized that there are better and more effective ways to help me."

Since the opening of the IOP in May 2017, the program serves small cohorts to 5-8 students (ages 13-18) at a time. The number of requests for the IOP far outweighs the number of teens CHC can serve. To meet this need, CHC partners with Stanford's Department of Psychiatry to leverage our resources and help more teens. Thank you to the Palo Alto Community Fund and other visionary donors for making the RISE Intensive Outpatient Program possible.

Our team at CHC remains vigilant in our efforts to combat mental illness and improve the mental health and wellness of pre-teens, teens and young adults. We are fully committed to continuing this work in our community. For more information about our Teen Mental Health programs and RISE Intensive Outpatient Program visit chconline.org/therapy.

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The Key to Success of CHC's Ravenswood Initiative for More Kids

CHC'S bilingual and bicultural staff works closely with our program partners to support the mental health and wellbeing of families in their preferred language and in their own community.

Launched in 2014, the Ravenswood Initiative for More Kids provides culturally relevant educational and mental health services at no cost to children, teens, and families in East Palo Alto and parts of Menlo Park and Redwood City.

The key to the success of the Ravenswood Initiative continues to be trusted partnerships and a highly skilled clinical team who represent the cultural diversity of the community. CHC's bilingual and bicultural staff work closely with program partners like Ravenswood City School District, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, Eastside College Preparatory School, KIPP Schools, All Five, Able Works, and Girls to Women to support the mental health and wellbeing of families in their preferred language and in their own community.

Ravenswood is designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a "Health Professional Shortage Area," meaning there are not enough medical and mental health professionals to meet the community's needs. Funding from generous donors makes it possible for CHC to help fill this service gap. Not only does CHC support families dealing with trauma, grief/loss, anxiety, disruptive and high-risk behaviors, the team also offers ongoing support to the staff and teachers at our partner agencies. One partner in East Palo Alto recently shared how CHC works with their staff and the students they serve:

"We partner directly with the CHC team to provide access to mental health and emotional support services for our afterschool program serving over 150 elementary students. Our staff feels comfortable using CHC as a resource when problem-solving for student needs. CHC's consistent weekly on-campus presence allows us to address chronic social-emotional issues with students on a one-on-one basis, allowing us to be much more impactful in our advocacy for these students…

CHC's clinicians visit our classrooms to observe instruction, provide feedback, and model strategies for managing student behaviors. CHC also leads workshops to help deepen our instructors' understanding of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). One of the key things echoed by CHC staff is that to support the emotional wellbeing of our students, we, as educators, must first take care of our own emotional wellbeing. This is a lesson that they have not only taught us through words, but through action, and it has been a tremendously positive influence across our program. It is this positivity that encourages us to continue to strengthen and expand this partnership in the future."

Learn more about the Ravenswood Initiative.

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