Cutting-Edge Treatment Options Emerge to Help Children During Pandemic

May 4, 2021

With children’s mental health stressors on the rise due the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health experts say a specific approach to therapy — evidence-based treatment (EBT) — is proving effective. The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut (CHDI) and the Village for Families & Children are working hard to increase access to EBTs across the state.

“There is a mental health crisis occurring now,” explained Village Chief Operating Officer, Hector Glynn. “The Village has experienced a greater volume now than ever before due to families feeling financial stress and the impacts of isolation.”

According to a recent study conducted by DCF and CHDI, EBTs are showing particularly promising results for children of color, who have been disproportionally affected by COVID. The treatment options are also reducing gaps in outcomes across racial and ethnic groups. EBTs are developed in an academic setting by research teams and are tested in their effectiveness for treating mental health conditions including anxiety, depression and trauma. EBTs, the report says, produce 55%-75% greater symptom improvement than “treatment as usual,” or talk-based therapy.

“It’s not just talk therapy or a conversation. They are moving from one skill or module to the next. There’s a road map, so you can define when treatment is going to end,” said Glynn.

Telehealth has also helped to increase access and destigmatize the need for mental health support.

Connecticut DCF has also announced that they will only invest in scientifically evidence-based treatments for children’s mental health going forward.

“We have come to a time in our evolution as a system to no longer subject our families to practices, services and approaches that don’t meet their needs, when we know we have evidence of services that do,” said DCF Deputy Commissioner Michael Williams. “If we have to make investments strategically… our preference going forward is investing in the services that we know work.”

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