These practices allow youth to be more present to work on their treatment goals and avoid to behavioral problems.
Dakota County Juvenile Services Center (JSC) received financial support from Dakota County’s integrated mental health and family services collaborative, the Dakota County Collaborative, for programming in the JSC that helps youth manage their emotions. Dakota County Collaborative is committed to having a continuum of mental health services for youth countywide. The Collaborative governing board is especially interested in services that help youth across multiple environments, and want to support the transition of youth from the JSC back to their schools in the community.
Beginning in 2018, the JSC contracted with 1000 Petals to train staff at the JSC campus—secure facility, New Chance Day Treatment, and the facility school—on trauma-informed practices for use in the JSC School and programs. A review of mental health screenings of youth placed at the JSC suggested that up to 80% of the youth had experienced between one to five life threatening situations. Research has demonstrated the severe effects trauma imparts to our brains and bodies. Treatment of experiencing trauma includes “calming” the brain and body. 1000 Petals has trained educators, therapists, parents and adults working with youth on how to integrate mindfulness, movement and social/emotional learning activities into schools, hospitals, detention centers, and therapeutic settings. Some Dakota County schools have contracted with 1000 Petals and are using the same approaches in their settings as are being taught at the JSC.
1000 Petals staff facilitates self-regulation groups twice per week at the JSC in the classrooms and program areas of the campus. In each session, youth lead and participate in mindfulness activities, breathing exercises and yoga-based movement for self-regulation, focus, de-escalation, community connection, and overall wellbeing. Youth learn about their brain and nervous system and how chronic stress impacts both mind and body. The youth have been respectful and engaged in these groups, even when trying the techniques for the first time. Staff also participate in groups and learn self-care strategies to help alleviate stress, improve sleep, and provide an opportunity to bring more calm to their work day. 1000 Petals’ goal is for JSC staff to incorporate these practices between sessions so that youth regularly use these self-regulation tools.
Youth have been surveyed before and after participation in these sessions. Nearly 150 surveys have been completed, with 84% of youth reporting feeling improved moods after the sessions. Youth overwhelmingly report feeling “more relaxed and calm” after these groups, and describe using these strategies to help “calm down, fall asleep, to relax when upset or overwhelmed, to focus and prepare to exercise.” These practices allow youth to be more present to work on their treatment goals and avoid to behavioral problems.
The Dakota County Collaborative not only provided funding for this work, but also made it possible for the service approach at the JSC to be more uniform with approaches used in the schools. This partnership is a good model for service delivery between systems, and has brought useful tools to both youth and staff at the JSC, at school, and in their own lives.
Read more about Kathy’s story here.