Mental Health Week & Adoption

Date: May 5, 2016 Author: Communications Coordinator Categories: Events | Mental Health | Opportunities to Give | Permanency and Adoption Competency Training | Special Needs | The Family Effect
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The Adoption Council of Ontario welcomes and celebrates Mental Health Week!

Black and White photo of young person smiling slightly.Kids Need Families and Families Need Support is our motto. The ACO knows from its surveys and training programs that many of our children and families struggle with mental health issues. Of the over 400 families who completed one of our surveys a few years ago, over 64% believed their child had a mental health issue.

This is backed up by research. As we know, in the general population, approximately 1 in 5 children and youth will suffer from a mental health issue. However research tells us that for children and youth in foster care, the incidence is much greater. This is often because of their early-life experiences of neglect and abuse, and the resulting losses from the many attachment disruptions that they endure both before and during their time in care. Approximately 1 in 2 children in foster care suffer from a mental health issue.

Because of their often difficult early-life experiences, our population of kids carry a burden of suffering that most other children and youth do not.

We also know, that though finding permanence, (a family to grow up and grow old in), is a key stabilizing factor for
children, mental health issues do not disappear once a child is adopted. The ACO is working hard to help provide more supports to our families and their children.

What is the ACO doing?

Over the past year, we have begun to roll-out our specialized 8-week training program for families (Pathways to Permanence 2: Parenting Children who have Experienced Trauma & Loss©) and our specialized 8-day training program for professionals working with our families (ACT: An Adoption & Permanency Curriculum for Child Welfare and Mental Health Professionals©).

These training programs provide a comprehensive framework for families and the professionals who work with them to better understand and appreciate the often complex issues that all members of the adoption constellation – children and adults who have experienced adoption, families formed through adoption, biological parents and siblings and their extended families, grapple with over their lifetimes. Many of these issues have a direct and long-lasting impact on the mental health of everyone touched by adoption.

Dr. Paul Steinhauer believed, society is wiser to invest in children’s mental health sooner, while they’re young, than later... 

The ACO also has a clinical Permanency and Adoption Support Services program which directly supports and guides adoptive families and other constellation members. In addition the ACO has an active Youth Network which
supports and provides a platform for young people who have experienced adoption to use their voices.

Why is it important?

The mental health of all our children and youth is critical to enabling them to grow into the healthy adulthood we all want for them. The staff and the Board of the Adoption Council of Ontario welcomes Mental Health Week and celebrates the strength and resilience of all children and youth with mental health issues.

We especially recognize and take a moment this week to salute our adopted kids, Ontario's children and youth still in foster care, and those who have aged out. Because of their often difficult early-life experiences, our population of kids carry a burden of suffering that most other children and youth do not. Their mental health in particular should be a very high priority for all of us. As the late child psychiatrist and passionate child welfare advocate Dr. Paul Steinhauer believed, society is wiser to invest in children’s mental health sooner while they’re young than later when the problems from abuse and neglect end up costing us all dearly.

And so, in honour of Mental Health Week, the ACO motto put another way is:

Kids Need Families to help Stabilize and Protect their Mental Health and
Families need Support to help Everyone Heal.

Let's all do what we can to make this a reality for our kids. They deserve nothing less.

With your support, the ACO can continue to do this critical work.

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