October 31, 2008

Reflecting on Practicum Experience

I met with one of the people I'll be using as a reference today and we got on the topic of my last practicum. In my last practicum, I worked in a community office that helps children with mental health issues. It was a great experience, but there were a few things about it that I simply did not like.

What I'm going to talk about is accessibility of the service. When I was first learning the ropes there, I found it very odd that the hours of operation were 9-5 on most days. There was one day where there were extended hours, but that was it. So look at that. Services for kids, from 9-5. Ummm, don't they go to school? To be fair, many did have school issues and did not attend, but from what I knew, most of them were in school. So that limits accessibility right there.

Then we have to talk about where it was housed. Ok, it was in a decent area in terms of close to town and some residential areas, but there was little bus service, and it was confusing to find. That's not the best part of it, though. To get to our offices, you have to check in with reception and then a clinician would have to come downstairs to get you. Yup, we weren't even on the first floor.

So this is how we provide services to children with mental health issues? An office on a higher floor in a back part of town?

Now, when I think of what would work, I think of a drop in center. With things to do and people to hang out with. Maybe some stuff to eat and things to read. Games to play. Areas for groups and comfortable areas for some privacy with a counselor. A pool table. Gawd, I dunno...anything other than an office where we have to be careful.

Is this really too much to ask?


Anonymous said...

My TA was talking in class about a similar thing. It seems kind of stupid that the kids would have to miss class/parents miss work just to bring their kids to get help from these places. Having been involved with a MH drop-in centre, I do have to say that those places are not all they're cracked up to be either. Sometimes lack of structure is NOT a good thing. I think something in the middle is good, and certainly a more warm and accepting atmosphere. :)

antiSWer said...

Yeah, structure definitely is needed. I envision a dropin place, but with the elements of the office still intact. You can just come to drop in, but if you're there for other services, it's not so intimidating.

Melanie said...

Your thoughts ring true with me but having worked in the field for the last ten years I have found that sometimes there are reasons why we can't always meet the need. I live in a more rural community that spans about 40 miles and has no public transportation. My agency has offices set up in four parts of the county to try and address transportation but our biggest problem has been in getting staff who are willing to work past 5PM more than two nights a week. Staff who have left us over the years have told us that we cannot pay them enough to make even two evenings worth their while. When we have tried to push for more evenings staff turnover was even higher which is harder on the clients because they are then constantly shifting clinicians. I love creative ideas so if you would be willing to share some just know that I am always on the look out. Peace

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