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How Wraparound Care is Transforming Mental Health for Tennessee Kids and Families

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Mental health care has undergone significant evolution over the past few decades, with new models of care emerging to address the complexities of mental health needs. One such innovative approach is wraparound care, which has shown great promise in transforming mental health services in Tennessee. At the forefront of this movement is Tennessee Voices, an organization dedicated to providing comprehensive mental health support for youth and families through its unique model of wraparound care. This model emphasizes family support, community engagement, and staff members’ first-hand understanding of client experiences, creating a holistic and effective system of care.

Wraparound Care

Understanding Wraparound Care

Wraparound care is a comprehensive, individualized approach to providing mental health services that address the multifaceted needs of individuals and their families. Unlike traditional models that focus solely on the individual’s clinical needs, wraparound care considers the broader context of a person’s life, including their family, community, and social environment. This approach is particularly effective for individuals with complex needs that span multiple areas of their lives, such as those experiencing severe mental health challenges, substance abuse issues, or other co-occurring conditions.

The core principles of wraparound care include:

  • Individualized care with tailored services to meet the specific needs of each individual and their family.

  • A strengths-based approach that focuses on the strengths and resources of the individual and their support network.

  • Family-centered care that involves family members in the care process to create a supportive and nurturing environment.

  • Community integration that leverages community resources to support the individual and their family.

  • A collaborative effort that engages a team of professionals and support systems to coordinate care and services.

Wraparound Care

Tennessee Voices’ Unique Model

Tennessee Voices has adapted the wraparound care model to create a transformative approach to mental health care for kids and their families in Tennessee. Their model includes three key components: family support, community engagement, and staff members’ first-hand understanding of client experiences.

Family Support

Family support is at the heart of Tennessee Voices’ wraparound care model. Recognizing that family dynamics and support systems play a crucial role in an individual’s mental health, Tennessee Voices actively involves family members in the care process. This involvement can take various forms, including family therapy sessions, educational workshops, and support groups. By empowering families with knowledge and skills, Tennessee Voices helps them become active participants in their loved one’s mental health journey.

For example, its Family Connection program provides family-driven support to caregivers of children and youth with emotional, behavioral, substance abuse, or psychiatric challenges. This intensive in-home program is designed to support families with children and youth with complex needs, helping them navigate the child-serving systems and providing advocacy, support, and therapeutic skill-building​.

Moreover, Tennessee Voices provides family advocates who work closely with families to navigate the often complex mental health care system. These advocates offer emotional support, practical advice, and help accessing resources, ensuring that families do not feel isolated or overwhelmed.

Community Engagement

Community engagement is another cornerstone of Tennessee Voices’ approach. They understand that mental health is not solely an individual issue but a community concern. Tennessee Voices creates a network of support that extends beyond traditional clinical settings by fostering strong connections with local organizations, schools, healthcare providers, and other community resources.

This community-based approach allows for more accessible and culturally sensitive care. It also helps reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues by normalizing conversations about mental health within the community. Through initiatives such as community outreach programs, public awareness campaigns, and collaborative projects with local agencies, Tennessee Voices ensures that mental health care is integrated into the fabric of the community.

Personalized Connections to Families

One of the most unique aspects of Tennessee Voices’ model is the emphasis on staff members’ first-hand understanding of client experiences. This brings empathy, authenticity, and relatability to their interactions with clients and families. This peer support aspect of wraparound care not only enhances the quality of care but also empowers clients by showing them that they are not alone in their struggles.

The Family & Adult Solution Treatment (FAST) program stemmed from families’ growing need for support during the pandemic. A strength-based, family-driven initiative, FAST assists children, youth, and families in navigating complex systems and accessing services through family peer support. Family Support Specialists leverage their lived experiences to aid those facing emotional, behavioral, or mental health challenges.

Tennessee Voices, in partnership with the TN Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) and Centerstone Research Institute (CRI), continues its long-standing System of Care work through the System of Care Across Tennessee (SOCAT) initiative. Based on 20 years of experience, SOCAT focuses on young children, youth, and adults with their families. It follows System of Care values and principles, empowering families to collaborate with child-serving agencies as partners in guiding care.

In this program, wraparound care starts with planning, which follows steps to help children and families achieve their hopes and dreams. It ensures children and youth grow up in their homes and communities. The individualized process brings together people from different aspects of the family—family members, teachers, and other community members. It gives children and families a voice and choice, tailoring the plan to their unique strengths and needs.

Transformative Impact on Mental Health in Tennessee

The wraparound care model implemented by Tennessee Voices has had a profound impact on mental healthcare for kids in Tennessee. Addressing the needs of the whole person and their environment leads to improved outcomes for individuals and families alike. Key benefits of wraparound care  include:

1. Improved Mental Health Outcomes

Clients receiving wraparound care often experience better mental health outcomes, including reduced symptoms, improved functioning, and enhanced quality of life.

2. Enhanced Family Well-being

Families involved in the care process often feel more supported and better equipped to help their loved ones, strengthening family bonds and improving overall well-being.

3. Increased Community Support

Community engagement efforts have led to greater awareness and acceptance of mental health issues, fostering a more supportive and inclusive environment for individuals with mental health challenges.

4. Empowerment and Resilience

The emphasis on peer support and lived experience empowers clients, helping them build resilience and a sense of hope for the future.

Tennessee Voices’ wraparound care model is a testament to the power of comprehensive, compassionate, and community-oriented mental health care. By addressing the diverse needs of individuals and their families, Tennessee Voices is transforming mental health care in Tennessee and setting a precedent for holistic care that can be replicated in other regions.

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