One vital component of quality early childhood mental health consultation is the relationship that the consultant has with the staff and families. Positive outcomes require a positive relationship. That is evident in the story of Nick and his mom.
Nick enrolled at the community based early education program a few years ago. He was referred to the mental health consultant early on for challenging behaviors. These included aggression, difficulty focusing, and defiance. The TFC mental health consultant gathered information from Nick’s mom and teachers, and observed him in the classroom. Together, they developed strategies to help support him in the classroom. With consistent implementation of these evidence based strategies, Nick made some progress, but he was still struggling in the classroom and at home. The mental health consultant relied on the relationship she had built with Nick’s mom and teachers, and encouraged his mom to seek out evaluations with the school district and a developmental psychologist. Discussing the potential of an individualized education plan (IEP) or a medical diagnosis is scary for most parents to consider. After several conversations discussing the pros and cons of moving forward and continued support from the mental health consultant, Nick’s mom sought support from other resources in the community.
A year later, Nick is receiving the services that he needs, and he is thriving. He has the skills and supports in place that he needs to successfully enter kindergarten this fall. Nick has acquired self-regulation skills that allow him to work individually and participate in large group activities. He has also learned how to identify his emotions and calm his body during times of upset with the help of an adult. He will enter kindergarten with an up to date individualized education plan, ensuring that his new teachers will be prepared with the necessary strategies and supports to meet his needs. With the support that his mom received to make informed decisions for her son, she is better prepared to advocate for his needs in the years to come.