The pandemic may have put some activities on hold, but it has not stopped love and caring for families. At a time when there is more social distancing and families separated from each other, there are bright, uplifting stories of families coming together because of hard-working professionals in communities across our state.
Thanks to dedicated therapists like Joe Soong, a Multisystem Therapy (MST) therapist with Child & Family Service in Kailua-Kona, support for juvenile offenders and families has continued without interruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. Joe quickly adapted to providing treatment virtually and has not stopped providing around-the-clock support to West Hawaii’s youth and families.
Recently, Joe helped support a family in Kona whose teenage son was discharged from a psychiatric hospital. Joe coordinated care with the hospital and prepared the mother for her son’s return home. One of the key roles Joe plays as an MST therapist is helping families with safely planning. Joe drove across Hawaii Island to deliver lock boxes, which are used to store items such as medication, knives, and other sharp objects.
During the pandemic, much of Joe’s work has been conducted by video conferencing. He conducted a virtual tour of the family’s home to identify any items of concern and worked with the mother to secure them. Despite the difficulty many may have with establishing rapport virtually, Joe so effectively engages with families that he successfully connects with not only the youth but also inspires other key players to be involved. Joe continues to play a role in the family’s transition, helping prepare the teenage boy’s adult siblings to play a bigger role in their brother’s care before the mother underwent a medical procedure. Thanks to Joe’s therapeutic support and compassionate care, the family is doing well and everyone is safe.
The Hawaii Department of Health’s Child & Adolescent Mental Health Division (CAMHD) provides mental health services free of charge for eligible children and youth in Hawaii who have severe emotional and/or behavioral challenges. Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is an intensive family- and community-based treatment that addresses serious anti-social behavior in juvenile offenders ages 11 through 18.
MST looks all factors associated with delinquency across the youth’s settings, including family, peers, school, and neighborhood, and uses the strengths of each system to foster positive change. MST therapists may introduce youth to recreational activities and work with parents and caregivers to help youth focus on school or gain job skills. For more information about Multisystemic Therapy and other CAMHD services, visit health.hawaii.gov/camhd.