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Extending the Conversation on Pediatric Mental Health

Attendees from the recent PPAL training at Franciscan Children’s

Attendees from the recent PPAL training, hosted at Franciscan Children’s. From far right, parent facilitator, Beth Pond, Franciscan Children’s Mental Health Specialist Coordinator, Chelsey O’Donnell, parent facilitator, Meri Viano, and other attendees.

The Parent Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) has given a voice to families and advocated for improved access to mental health services for children, youth and their families since 1991.  In those years, PPAL has become a well-known and well-respected organization in Massachusetts and beyond.  Along the way, Lisa Lambert, the Executive Director, and her staff have seen and heard the very best and unfortunately, some of the very worst.  From these interactions, they’ve developed the expertise to help families navigate the complex behavioral health environment of care for youth.

As part of their outreach effort, PPAL regularly hosts sessions designed to further the conversation and advocacy efforts to improve the quality of care available.  Recently, Franciscan Children’s had the opportunity to host a session focused on Family Engagement.  This session was the second of its kind offered at Franciscan, due to high demand.  Over the course of the day, the PPAL staff guided a deep conversation about the importance of family engagement, the difference between family-centered and family-driven care, the barriers to family involvement, how to eliminate them and effective strategies for family engagement.  Attendees came from diverse backgrounds to learn best practices and shared their own knowledge along the way.  More than just an opportunity to hear other voices, this session was a chance to share strategies for how to overcome some of the challenges professionals face working with families who have children in crisis.

“We value the role that PPAL plays as a resource for families when they’re feeling overwhelmed and potentially unprepared to deal with a child’s mental health crisis,” said Dr. Ralph Buonopane, Program Director of the McLean Franciscan Child & Adolescent Inpatient Mental Health Program.  “At Franciscan Children’s we are proud to provide expert care that children or adolescents need in  a time of crisis, but we also know in order for our care to be effective, we must always be guided by the voice and expertise of parents and families.  Family advocates and partners like the team at PPAL are there for the duration to walk alongside families over the course of the crisis and beyond.  We’re proud to partner with the parents in our community through PPAL, learn from them, and recognize our shared mission of providing hope to children and families coping with mental health needs.”

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