January 2021
PPAL at 30
Did You Know?
In the late 1980s, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) began getting calls from parents of children and teens with mental health challenges. They were looking for help, and at the time, there was not a single place to find it. While organizations dedicated to mental health did exist, none offered the specific support and services that these families were seeking. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) primarily supported families of adults, while the Federation for Children with Special Needs focused on special education. 

After asking several organizations to take this on - and getting no takers - DMH funded a special project at the Federation for Children with Special Needs. That project was called the Parent/Professional Advocacy League, or PPAL. This year, as we celebrate 30 years of hope, we ask you to watch this space for more information about how PPAL was started and what we have accomplished over the years.

PPAL Supports More Families 
2020 Sees Increase in Family Support Calls

It's been a difficult year for everyone, particularly for families of children with mental health challenges. In 2020, PPAL received substantially more calls to support families than it did in 2019. We also saw a change in the type of help requested. In particular, we saw a threefold increase in the need for assistance with accessing behavioral health services and a sixfold increase in requests for help with children's social/emotional health, particularly related to problem solving and crisis planning. In a year when families needed more support than ever before, PPAL is proud to have been able to meet this need.

Youth MOVE Massachusetts 
Support Group Takes Off
Check Out the Youth Support Group to 
Build Community and Have Fun

Youth MOVE, along with our new Youth Coordinator Dev Kaplan, jump-started the new year with a fresh take on our youth support group. Every Tuesday evening in January, youth aged 14-18 were invited to join the virtual group for support from Dev and their peers, all of whom have lived experience in mental health. Activities included thought-provoking icebreakers and digging deeper into their mental health stories, as well as exploring zodiac signs and dancing to some special choreography. If you're a young person looking to connect with others with similar experiences, join Dev the first Tuesday of each month from 5-6:30pm to build community, connect with peers, learn how and when to share your story, build some new skills and hobbies, and much more.

For more information and the zoom link, email Dev today!

PPAL Contributes to STAT Article on Expedited Admissions 
Lisa Lambert Quoted on EPIA

When children with mental health challenges need in-patient support, they often have to wait for days in the emergency department until a psychiatric placement can be found. For some, a relatively new state program, Expedited Psychiatric Inpatient Admissions (EPIA) can help them be placed in appropriate care much more quickly. 

This month, the health news website STAT featured an article on EPIA, holding up the program as an example for other states. PPAL's Director Lisa Lambert spoke with reporter Roger Rapoport for the article, and is quoted early in the piece. Clearly journalists know that when it comes to children's mental health, PPAL is their go-to source! Read the article here.

Reaching Out in Tough Times
Recruiting Diverse Family Partners

PPAL's Multicultural Outreach Program had a wonderful start to 2021 with our Family Partner training workshop, featuring PPAL's own Dalene Baseden. Family members with lived experience caring for children with special needs, especially those who speak multiple languages or come from diverse backgrounds, were encouraged to attend and learn about working in this field. The training covered the history of the Family Partner role, what it's like to work as a Family Partner, and the qualifications needed for the job (hint: if you care for a child with special needs, you already have all you need). 

PPAL will repeat the training on February 5th and March 6th, so if you're interested in a job supporting families like yours, contact our Multicultural Outreach Coordinator, Terry Alves Hunter, via email.

January Statewide Meeting
A conversation with DMH Commissioner Brooke Doyle and Deputy Commissioner Emily Sherwood
Demand for this month's Statewide Meeting was so great that PPAL needed to expand our ZOOM license! On January 12, we were joined by new DMH Commissioner Brooke Doyle and Deputy Commissioner Emily Sherwood for a listening session attended by almost 100 families. Topics included what's needed most when a child is in crisis, treatment during COVID, and support for caregivers. Families shared stories of long waits in the Emergency Department for in-patient treatment, problems at group homes and other residential facilities, trouble accessing respite services, lack of supports for younger children, and much more. 

They also shared a few positive experiences and ideas for change, such as the fact that telehealth appointments can be beneficial for families who have trouble getting their kids out of the house. Families also noted that it would be helpful to have a more centralized, comprehensive location to seek help, as opposed to calling multiple agencies and filling out multiple sets of paperwork in order to obtain services.

PPAL especially thanks Deputy Commissioner Emily Sherwood, who will be stepping down from her role after four years. Kelly English and Charlene Zuffante will be stepping in as Acting Deputy Commissioners.

Join us for our next Statewide Meeting on February 9th at 10am to learn about supporting teens living with depression during the pandemic. For questions and registration, email us or click here to register. 

Join Us for Success Fest!
PPAL to Present on Transitioning Decision-Making 
from Parents to Youth
PPAL is excited to be part of Success Fest, in collaboration with DMH. PPAL's Joel Khattar, Dawn Christie, and Dev Kaplan will present the topic "I Am Driving But Still Need an EMERGENCY KIT!" This presentation will discuss the paradigm shift from parents to youth in the driver's seat of their health and other decision-making. Join us on February 24 from 2:30 to 4pm. For more information, visit the Success Fest website. You won't want to miss it!

Taking Steps into Adulthood
Youth Transition Survey Results Now Available

Moving into adulthood is complicated! In 2020, PPAL and Youth MOVE Massachusetts surveyed 136 youth and young adults (ages 14 to 30 years) about the role of their families during the years when the respondents transition into adulthood. Respondents answered 70 questions across a range of topics that included families, school, medical care, self care, life skills, and more.
The transition years are a time of growth. From the perspective of youth and young adults, the survey results show how and where family support is utilized over time.
You can view the full infographic here.

Celebrating PPAL's 30th
Will You Help Us Mark the Occasion?

PPAL is excited to be turning 30 this year! Stay tuned for special events to mark this anniversary!

Parent/Professional Advocacy League| 866-815-8122 | 617-542-7832 | info@ppal.net | www.ppal.net

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