“Hope is a Luxury” an overview of MSC June 2018 Corporate Meeting  

In the last meeting for MSC Class Six, the health committee lead by Anna Butler, Andrea Durham, Colea Owens and Sai Gunturi, facilitated impressive individual roundtable discussions with eleven professionals spanning experiences in children’s mental health and the effect of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  Opening the discussion, the committee asked all attendees to assess their own levels of trauma by taking the ACEs questionnaire, which consists of ten questions that helps mental health professionals become familiar with the types of trauma a person has experienced in their life. In Dallas County, 73% of students are economically disadvantaged, which may be equated to higher exposure levels to trauma1.  ACEs accounts for poor housing quality, affordability, violence, discrimination and lack of opportunity and economic mobility.  

Each roundtable held professionals from across the field of mental health such as doctors, licensed professional counselors, psychologist and advocates.  

In one roundtable discussion, Sue Schell, Vice President and Clinical Director, Behavioral Health at Children’s Health, provided information regarding childhood trauma and healthy brain development.  Nationally, 22.6% of children score a 2+ on ACES, in comparison, Texas holds 23.9% and Dallas County is at 26.5%, while Collin and Greyson County are at 23%2.  Children experiencing trauma can often display behaviors that schools can misinterpret as ADHD, rather than going deeper into trauma related issues within the home or from past experiences.  MSC Class Six Member, Emily Garvin, mentioned a study that found inner-city children continually exposed to gun violence held higher rates of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) than military veterans3. These types of traumas can take years to display symptoms.

“Hope is a luxury,” as stated by Haesung Han, Psy.D., ATR-BC, LCAT, Cofounder, Chief Programs and Clinical Officer for Poetic, when quoting a girl in the program who was a victim of trafficking. Treatment for recovery of traumatic experiences and mental health care is a luxury that families cannot afford and can feel embarrassed to seek assistance. When a person is in survival mode and struggling to meet their basic needs of food, shelter and safety, the choices become very clear in either seeking mental health assistance or having a meal that day.    

A common theme among the roundtables included how individuals can help understand and assess trauma early. Many individuals often wait 8-10 years before they seek professional health assessments.   Dr. John Burruss, CEO Metrocare Services, and John Dornheim, Dallas Manager for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), spoke about the need for training people in MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID and making it just as common as First Aid administration. Mental Health First Aid teaches individuals how to identify, understand and respond to someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenges. NAMI offers lost cost training session courses throughout the year across the country.  Locally in Dallas, the next available training session will be held on August 1, 2018. A $40 registration is available online at: http://www.namidallas.org/education-class-schedule.html.  

The Mayor’s Star Council would like to extend a special thanks to Children’s Health for hosting a wonderful discussion and to Kalanchandji’s for catering the evening.