Lessons Learned: Equipping Interdisciplinary Scholars to Provide a Continuum of Mental and Behavioral Health Supports

Lessons Learned: Equipping Interdisciplinary Scholars to Provide a Continuum of Mental and Behavioral Health Supports

R. Lanai Jennings, Sandra S. Stroebel
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-6438-0.ch022
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This chapter outlines important lessons learned while implementing Marshall University's interdisciplinary personnel development program. Motivated by the intense needs of youth with disabilities in Appalachia and the shortage of qualified personnel to address these needs, the program employed evidence-based models to train school counselors, school psychologists, and special educators. Factors found to be essential include finding evidence-based interventions appropriate for all disciplines, early intense training, while acknowledging differences in entry skills and knowledge of interdisciplinary scholars, exposing scholars to a continuum of tiered school-based supports including working together across disciplines, modeling and attending to self-care of scholars, and acquiring partnerships for sustainability. These factors were important in successfully training the scholars to provide services to children with intensely complex social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Also included are suggestions for improving training based on the authors' reflections and feedback from scholars.
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In terms of overdose mortality rates, no state has been more negatively affected than WV. Age-adjusted overdose mortality rates from 2014 through 2020 illustrate that WV led the nation each year, and increased to an all-time high of 81.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2020 (CDC - National Center for Health Statistics, 2022). As educators, the deleterious consequences of parental substance abuse disorders (SUD) on children are well-known. These adverse effects can range from the neurodevelopmental impact of in-utero exposure and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) to the toxicity and paralysis of addiction, which can upend a family’s routines, the typical parent-child interactions, and ultimately, the family’s sense of security. WV’s Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) (2018) reported prenatal substance exposure in 143 per 1,000 (14.3%) of infants and of those babies 50.6 per 1,000 experienced NAS, representing 5% of infants. This rate of NAS was more than five times the national rate. Consequences of SUD and opioid use, in particular, can similarly involve child neglect, abuse, and even trafficking. For many children an associated adversity was the catastrophic loss of a parent(s) and/or parental figures to arrest, hospitalization or death. Unsurprisingly, then, the number of children removed to foster placements increased with the opioid epidemic, and children tended to remain in these placements for longer durations (Winstanley & Stover, 2019). Presently, nearly 7,000 WV children and adolescents are no longer in their parent’s care, and many of them are placed out-of-home due to parental substance abuse and related issues (WV DHHR, 2022). DHHR data on children in state custody show that approximately 85% of those placed have a parent with a SUD (Todd, 2019).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Burnout: Feelings of emotional and physical exhaustion, cynicism, ineffectiveness, and detachment often due to continual stress in the workplace.

Self-Care: Being cognizant of one’s needs and taking action to sustain or improve one’s well-being health, and happiness.

Trauma: An experience that is very distressing or disturbing and can generate a variety of emotional, behavioral, physical, and/or cognitive reactions in an individual.

Threat-Assessment: The process of determining the credibility and seriousness of a threat and deciding whether the threat will become a reality.

Evidence-Based Intervention: A strategy or practice that has been proven to be effective by objective data from research.

Partnerships: Two or more people, groups or organizations working together to achieve a common goal.

Interdisciplinary: Relating to two or more academic disciplines or areas of study.

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