The NH Community Behavioral Health Association Partners with Department of Education to Bring Mental Health Supports Into Summer Camps
DOE prioritizes the need for mental health supports in children’s summer camps and brings in staff from the ten community mental health centers
Concord, NH - As New Hampshire school districts, families and children prepare for the summer, the community mental health centers are gearing up to offer robust and multifaceted services throughout summer camps. The Department of Education, in collaboration with the Community Behavioral Health Association, is utilizing federal COVID-19 response funds to offer mental health training for camp counselors, as well as be on site at many camps throughout the state to help with children’s mental health needs.
The ten community mental health centers around the state will be designating staff from each center to be on site at camp locations weekly. Additionally, camp counselors ages 14 and above will receive mental health trainings to successfully address any issues that may arise during camp. The counselors will receive training virtually or in person and will include an overview of the community mental health centers (CMHC) and focused instructions for accessing emergency services in instances where referrals for youths experiencing an acute mental health crisis are made to local CMHC emergency services.
Jodie Lubarsky, Child, Adolescent and Family Services Director with Seacoast Mental Health Center, Inc., says “With support from the Community Behavioral Health Association, the partnership with the Department of Education continues to demonstrate the braiding between agencies and continued work to support a System of Care for children in New Hampshire. The Community Mental Health Centers have been providing care in New Hampshire communities for decades. This partnership is a natural extension of our practice to remove barriers to accessing behavioral health training, services and supports throughout the state. Working together we can make a difference in the lives of youth throughout NH as we hopefully come to the other side of the pandemic. The partnership will allow us to work with New Hampshire’s children in a variety of settings offering supports while demonstrating the importance of access to prosocial, recreational activities to support the social and emotional needs of youth after a very challenging year and a half. I am hopeful we will end the summer with successful takeaways that can be sustained for years to come.”
As a result of school closures and the need to implement remote and hybrid instructional models across the state, as well as the broader community disruption from the pandemic, there are growing concerns around the mental and behavioral health of New Hampshire students. The preponderance of evidence indicates that students of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities benefit from exposure to short-term summer enrichment programs, including in the areas of challenge, friend-making, positivity, and emotional safety. Additionally, Psychology Today identified important factors to helping student mental health in its March 19, 2020 article “Improving Student Mental Health During the COVID- 19 Crisis.”
This effort is a part of the NH Department of Education’s Rekindling Curiosity: Every Kid Goes to Camp program. This program offers families camp tuition support in hopes to get NH’s kids outside and into normal activities.
“In spite of the heroic efforts by so many over this past year, so many children across New Hampshire have experienced anxiety and trauma during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Frank Edelblut, the Commissioner of Education. “The Rekindle Curiosity program will simply give many of our children the opportunity to be a kid again and build some childhood memories. We want to support continued development of the whole child and ensure that our children are excited and enthusiastic about their return to learning in the fall.” Class Wallet will support the Department’s administration of the program through its digital wallet platform.
For more information on the community mental health centers immersion into New Hampshire summer camps, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Rekindle Curiosity, go to https://rekindlingcuriosityeducation.nh.gov/.
The NH Community Behavioral Health Association is an organization comprised of the ten community mental health centers throughout New Hampshire. These centers serve individuals in our state who are living with—and recovering from—mental illness and emotional disorders. The goal of the Association is to raise awareness about the crucial role played by community-based mental health centers in the provision of mental health services to those living with and recovering from mental illness in New Hampshire. In addition, the Association serves as an advocate for a strong mental health system across New Hampshire.