Denton County Federation of Families

Conversation: 

Format: 

Series of shorter meetings

Number of Participants: 

117

What were the most important things you learned during the process of organizing the dialogue?: 

We had to be really flexible to accommodate events that had been planned well in advance of our conversation. First, we incorporated the Mental Health Report released by United Way of Denton County in Sept 2013 into our discussion prompts. We also wanted to help inform the community about best practices within wraparound so we incorporated the Principles of Wraparound into our fact sheet and discussion prompts. Initially, we used a Dialogue Guide Process to create materials to support a focus group process. We partnered with a local coalition of children's mental health agencies and providers who asked that we embed our discussions into events that were already planned which included two suicide awareness and memorial events. Because those were a run and a walk, we reformatted the guide into a series of "Did you know" prompts and created quick forced choice questions to enable walk through responses for the events. Additionally, we expanded the questions and added an open ended component which was placed online through several weeks in November 2013. We are processing the qualitative data now using grounded theory. It has been helpful to have connections with Texas Woman's University's School of Occupational Therapy for this part of the process. The quantitative data is available at http://www.psychdata.com/app/Report/Data/K/101647K3ZJG .

What did you identify as the key issues affecting mental health in your community and especially the mental health of your community‚Äôs young people?: 

We are processing the qualitative data right now and expect to post that by January 2014 which will give a fuller picture. The following are some key results from the easily quantifiable portion of the survey:

  • Texas ranks 50th in mental health funding in the US and Denton County ranks 31st among the 39 community mental health centers in Texas
  • 98.2% of respondents stated the level of unmet mental health need in Denton County was either a problem (34.8%) or a crisis (63.4%)
  • Children with mental health needs are pushed into juvenile justice systems when there are not adequate mental health resources
  • 53.6% of respondents thought the need to shift care from juvenile justice to community supports such as wraparound is a priority issue for Denton County. Another 42.7% felt it is one of many important issues. Only 3.6% reported a lack of concern.
  • When asked the extent to which either child well-being or mental illness should be the priority, 29% stated well-being should be the priority, 46.7% stated resources should favor well-being but should also address mental illness, 21.5% stated resources should favor mental illness but also address well-being, and 2.8% stated addressing mental illness should be the priority.
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What did you identify as the current strategies being used to address mental health challenges in your community? What are the challenges facing those strategies? : 

Our survey asked about practices that reflect key principles from systems of care and wraparound. Again, this is just preliminary data from the quantitative portion of the survey. There will be much richer data from the entire survey, once the qualitative data is also included, but from the initial data:

  • 75.5% either did not know much about wraparound or had never heard of it. 15.7% knew about wraparound but needed more support to implement it, and 8.8% had participated in a child and family team and could be a resource for others.
  • 65.6% stated an understanding that family to family supports are essential in supporting families raising children with mental health needs. 64.8% stated that families in Denton County are not connected to other knowledgable families with their experiences. 27% stated that they knew of family volunteers or staff but that they needed more support. Only 8.1% knew of knowledgable, professional  families who work within agencies and are given strong support.
  • 57.3% did not know about using child strengths to promote welbeing and healthy occupations. 56.4% stated that they had either never or rarely seen strengths identified and/or used to build healthy occupations for children. 37.2% stated that they had seen strengths identified but that children do not get to use their strengths regularly. Only 6.4% stated that children with mental health needs routinely have opportunities to experience themselves as competent.
  • 54.8% were not aware of the need to engage children in activities in the community and to include nonprofessional community members on the wraparound team.

What actions did you identify that your community can pursue to improve mental health, especially among young people?: 

More of these actions are going to come out from the qualitative data:

  • 79% of respondents stated a willingness to serve on an individual child and family team.
  • 75.9% of respondents stated that it is smart for different agencies who serve the same child to coordinate and share responsibility.
  • 59.2% of respondents stated that all children, youth and families can succeed and it is worth whatever effort it takes to help where needed. Another 36.8% saw a need for more limited supports. Only 3.9% did not see the need to provide support.
  • 78.9% support setting goals and tracking outcomes and supports provided. 

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your conversation?: 

More to come! We will post an updated report with the qualitative data by January 2014.