Wolverine Human Services (WHS) has developed several specialized residential programs over the past decade. This particular article addresses children with mental health disorders and our therapeutic approach to treat the population.

Nationally, there has been a significant decrease in mental health program options for children, thus creating a significant increase with mental health clients placed in juvenile justice facilities.

Mental Health KidsAccording to the American Psychological Association, there are an estimated 15 million children diagnosed with mental health disorders–of which only 7% receive the proper mental health treatment. Children are being adjudicated on their symptoms and not treated for their core issues. WHS has taken this challenge head on by creating innovative ways to treat this vulnerable population. We blend cognitive behavioral therapy with a practically-based life skills approach that allows clients to participate in simulated real world scenarios. Many children facing mental health issues experience difficulty with daily living such and proper hygiene, money management, cleaning, and socialization.

The WHS transitional life skills program is a blend of hands-on experience and specific skills taught to help children be successful as they transition back into their home communities as well as higher learning institutions. Each child creates their own portfolio complete with Educational Development Plans, résumés, and job applications. Transition class offers children a way to research possible career choices and college applications, FASFA, and TIP (Tuition Incentive Program) applications are also completed if appropriate. Children can obtain Social Security cards and Michigan state identification cards if necessary. In the hands-on class environment, children learn to cook, do laundry, budget, banking, income tax requirements, and social skills to enhance their everyday lives. Field trips to colleges, the Secretary of State’s Office, and other places of interest give children firsthand knowledge of how to navigate some of their upcoming adult journeys. Transition programming is specifically designed to help complete a child’s unique developmental needs and help them achieve independence in their futures.

WHS has experienced positive feedback and results with this blend of therapy and practical life skills development. Our clients have shown tremendous growth in daily life management, education, and decision-making. We continue to explore innovative ways to meet the challenges of vulnerable children and families with our mission in the front of our minds: “Helping Children to become Victors

Derrick McCreeDerrick McCree, MSW is Senior Vice President of Wolverine Human Services. He oversees operations and quality of WHS residential treatment programs, including services to over 600 youth and support of 400 employees each year. He is a Gulf War veteran and professor at Saginaw Valley State University. He is dedicated to helping those in need through evidence-based rehabilitative treatment services, innovative programs, and legislative advocacy. He is most proud of his children and enjoys coaching youth sports.