School-Based Mental Health Programming: Concentric Collaborative Conversations School-Based Mental Health Programming: Concentric Collaborative Conversations Collaborative and Dialogic Practices in Therapy and Social Change April 24, 2010, Cancun, Mexico Jeff Chang, PhD, R.Psych. Athabasca University and The Family Psychology Centre
School-Based Mental Health Programming: Concentric Collaborative Conversations Acknowledgements: Alberta Health Services (program funder) Independent Schools Advisory Committee, Calgary, AB (organizational sponsor) Almadina Charter Language Academy and Calgary Islamic School Athabasca University: Academic/Professional Development Fund Research Incentive Grant
School-Based Mental Health Programming: Concentric Collaborative Conversations In this workshop I will describe the development and operation of a school- based mental health service, operating in two schools of choice serving Muslim students. Program consultation, program development, staff supervision, consultation to school staff, and service delivery to children and families, were executed using collaborative practices based on solution-focused therapy, narrative therapy, and appreciative inquiry, with attention to the discourses in which education and school based mental health services are embedded, and attending to the interface between Muslim and mainstream culture.
School-Based Mental Health Programming: Concentric Collaborative Conversations What attracted you to this workshop? Fast forward: The Project as it currently operates Situating the work: Calgary and Alberta Me The discursive nexus Project Description: Development and Operation Local wisdom
Fast Forward: The Project as it currently operates The Wellness Empowerment Program name eventually selected by the schools Funded by Alberta Health Services One of 30+ school-based mental health capacity building projects in Alberta. All others were creations of specific individual school boards; the nature of our organizations led to some very different organizational practices Two schools:
Fast Forward: The Project as it currently operates A publicly funded, ESL charter school Elementary and Middle School Campus with about 650 students
Fast Forward: The Project as it currently operates Calgary Islamic School: Private religious school K-12 on one campus (650 kids)
Fast Forward: The Project as it currently operates Eventual service configuration: 4 FTE bachelors level School Support Counsellors .6 FTE mental health OT 1 Masters level Project Coordinator Services Universal Group oriented Contextual/consultative Family Individual
Situating the work: Calgary, Alberta, Canada 1 million people, 70,000 Muslims Successive waves of immigration started in late 1960s/ 1970s Oil capital of Canada: Boom and bust mentality Somewhat resistant to recession: Conservative banking regulation Balanced budgets Weve got oil! Politically conservative Low tax, low regulation, socially conservative Surprisingly unpopulist and intolerant
Situating the work: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Situating the work: Me Influenced by postmodern ideas (mainly solution-focused and narrative therapies), and appreciative inquiry Counselling psychologist Youth and family mental health programs and private practice, now in a faculty position Commitment to developing others through: Clinical supervision Teaching and curriculum development Creating collaborative workplaces by obtaining large service delivery contracts Qualitative research (new paper in JST on hermeneutic inquiry for postmodern therapists)
Situating the work: The Discursive Nexus Intersecting discourses: Diversity and inclusion and cross- cultural counselling Mental health Community mental health Capacity building and resilience Partnerships Islam and the world
Diversity and inclusion and cross- cultural counselling Diversity and inclusion Government-speak and policy-speak for well- meaning efforts to study and address inequity Acknowledgement of real power inequities, and differential access to resources and opportunity, based on differences in class, gender, race, linguistic fluency, sexual orientation, and physical ability Little appreciation of privilege on the part of policy-makers and funders Pragmatism/cynicism about this amongst funding recipients
Diversity and inclusion and cross- cultural counselling Cross-cultural counselling Initial attempts to articulate cross-cultural counselling approaches were conceptualized from the perspective of dominant culture counsellors relating to the culturally different and being culturally sensitive At the conference of a national counselling association last year, several participants commented that the field still largely approaches this from the standpoint of the dominant culture
Diversity and inclusion and cross- cultural counselling Cross-cultural counselling Office practice is seen as the model, and we extrapolate to figure out what to do in community based settings Although we are of the dominant culture, we are guests in the schools where we work. The metaphors from which we operate (anthropologist, missionary, traveler, tourist) are not quite fitting
Mental health Originally an individualistic, modernist discourse that underemphasized or ignored context, community, and collectivism Community Mental Health Oriented to keeping people struggling with chronic mental health problems out of institutions. Mental Health Capacity Building: From the description of this project The thirty-one sites address the capacity building and risk reduction service components in selected at-risk communities (italics mine).
Mental health Resiliency (and its cousins Strength- Based, Positive Psychology, and Character Education): A step in the right direction to focus on whats going right. Reifies resiliency factors, strengths, positive character traits, etc. As a function of logical type, we must therefore reify pathologies If character strengths reside within persons, as opposed to being a function of relational patterns and linguistic constructions, so must pathologies and deficits
Islam and the World Take five minutes and chat with your neighbor about reaction to the phrase Islam and the world. Islam is not monolithic: In our schools, 30+ countries of origin of students Arabic, sub-Saharan African, south Asian, Asian, Caucasian Arabic, Urdu, Somali, Persian/Farsi are predominant languages
Islam and the World Islam is much misunderstood, exoticized in a negative way, and pathologized This cartoon appeared in the Montreal Gazette after an article reported that a women was asked to leave a publicly funded French language class because she would not remove her niqab.
Islam and the World A cultural/discursive context exists for the maintenance of stereotypes and the perpetuation of polarization that overwhelms conversations with the potential to construct new understandings
Islam and the World Accordingly, thin descriptors like: terrorist radical enemy subjugating of women separatistic I know one. Hes normal crowd out alternative understandings, like:
Islam and the World spiritual respectful of women feminist family oriented inclusive advocating for social justice embracing Canada as fully participating citizens
Project Description Possible pilot project funding afforded us the opportunity to develop a program for a high needs school population Because we (service providers and Independent Schools Association) already had a relationship with both schools, we initiated a conversation with them about seeking this funding
Parameters of Funding Salamon, Grevelius, & Andersson, 1993: The AGS Commission Model: Presented commission > hypothetical commission Primary commission vs. secondary commission
Appreciative Inquiry Using Appreciative Inquiry, the following assumptions guided our development process In every human situation, something works What we focus on becomes our reality Reality is created in the moment and there are multiple realities The language we use shapes our reality The act of asking questions influences the outcome in some way
Appreciative Inquiry People have more confidence going into the future (unknown) when they carry forward parts of the present (known) If we carry parts of the past into the future, they should be what are best about the past It is important to value differences
Appreciative Inquiry The 4-D Cycle Dream: What might be? Envisioning Results Design: What should be - the ideal? Co-constructing Deliver: How to empower, learn, and adjust/improvise? Sustaining Discover: What gives life? Appreciating
Dream: What might be? Design: What should be - the ideal? Eight consultation meetings with parents, schools boards, mental health professionals familiar with the community:Parents: Someone to help our kids transition to new schools Help to figure out how to get kids to be successful in Canada and to be faithful Muslims
Dream: What might be? Success in the Canadian school system Dealing with worries and troubles How to work together to keep our kids safe. How to get kids to listen Someone to help us with family stress Someone to talk to about family problems who is not part of the community How to get help for kids A more caring school community
Dream: What might be? Professionals Prevent young men being radicalized Support for our grads in high school they get labeled as gangs, A-Rabs, towel heads, jihadis. Early school readiness. Our kids are behind the 8-ball in Kindergarten. How can we improve this? Test anxiety provincial achievement tests and other tests. They need to learn how to handle this
Dream: What might be? Connections with community resources Organizational skills some kids need help badly. A safer school -- not every kid feels safe. Help for bullies and the victims. A school where everyone feels safe Our religion is very important how can we work together with you to support families? Sometimes I dont know what to do They know the services are there in high school, but are afraid to go. If someone would support them to use whats there, that would be great.
Dream: What might be? Isolated women and men who abuse their wives how can we help them? If you are part of the school, and the parents see you all the time, theyll trust you Parents have to know that they just cant pull their kids out for months at a time.
Dream: What might be? Themes/categories: Community connections School readiness and academic support A safe and caring school Generational connections (includes faith) Dealing with transitions
Design: What should be - the ideal? Not clinical therapy or assessment Next to no therapy has been done Embedded in the school, positioning ourselves as: Collaborative Respectful guests Those who serve rather than those who help
Deliver: How to empower, learn, and adjust/improvise? Sustaining Solution-focused supervision AI informed staff meetings and meetings with the schools AI-informed problem-solving processes not everything has been hunky-dory Staff problems Leadership vacuum and changes Conflicts about access to information Lines of accountability and communication
Discover: What gives life? Appreciating Quarterly meetings with schools Triennial meeting with funder
Classroom Presentations oAlongside individual and small group work, weve also offered many classroom presentations for ECS-Grade 10 oOver 35 different topics in areas of peer relationships, safety, academic skills, personal development, problem-solving and many more!
I never knew what cyber bullying was until your presentation. It has been going on for 1 year now and I need help. - Grade 6 student
Weekly Lunchtime Skill-Building Groups
This group really helped me a lot and gave me lots of ideas and tips - Student Small-Group Skill Building About 130 students per year have participated in weekly lunch-time skill building groups I liked how group is not taught in a text book-ish way - it's done in a fun way. -Student
ECS- Leadership Program at Almadina oGrades 6, 7 and 9 students volunteer for 6 week blocks to provide leadership activities for ECS students during recess. oOctober 2008: 4 leaders oSeptember 2009 to January 2010: 64 leaders oTeachers report that playground problems have decreased oPositive relationships between ECS and Junior High students oLeaders demonstrate increased maturity and responsibility outside of volunteering time
Environmental/Leadership Program Nineteen Grade 9 and 10 students: oGreen initiatives oService at school events oFirst aid and CPR training oOutdoor pursuits oPeer conflict resolution oEncouraged by Imam
School Bus Program Initial driver comments: This program will never work, nothing will change. Now. I have some of the best kids on the bus! Lots of changes Getting better! Significant improvement in driver retention
oRequested by schools at start of project oSupporting student transitions... Into ECS ECS to Grade 1 Grade 5 to Grade 6 Grade 9 to High School Student Transition Activities
Grade 6 orientation I wish we had this when I was going into Grade 6. We were just thrown into junior high and figured it out ourselves! Student This is so cool! Im so glad I know how to open my lock and read my timetable before I get to the junior high. Its not that scary anymore. -Student
Parent Support Thank you for helping me with [pediatrician] appointments. Its good to know that this type of support is in the school. -Parent We hired a van-taxi and sent a staff member to take a mother and four children to the public health nurses office for treatment of head lice.