Here at Guided Pathways –Support for Youth and Families (GPS) we share what we call mission moments

Time out between conference sessions for taking photos in downtown Phoenix's Herberger Theatre sculpture plaza.

Time out between conference sessions for taking photos in downtown Phoenix’s Herberger Theatre sculpture plaza.

at our monthly staff meeting. A mission moment is any experience that reminds us of the importance of youth and family support and the need for helping families with emotional, behavioral and mental health challenges achieve wellness and resiliency.   During the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (NFFCMH), November 10th – 13th, in Phoenix, AZ, we experienced many mission moments.

The sunshine of the Sonoran desert and warm welcome of NFFCHM Executive Director Lynda Gargan set a positive tone from the start at the opening-day plenary session. SAMHSA’s Child, Adolescent, and Family Branch Chief Gary Blau reminded us that it’s now more than ever that family voice is needed. Presenters lead discussions on such vital issues as peer support, transgender and gender diversity, trauma-informed care and resiliency.

Opening plenary session shared why youth engagement and leadership is needed now more than ever.

Opening plenary session shared why youth engagement and leadership is needed now more than ever.

We were honored to be chosen to present at the conference. During our presentation, Partnering for Youth Empowerment Support in Schools, participants shared their challenges and passion for supporting transition age youth and involving schools in the work of ensuring at-risk youth receive support for social and emotional development in addition to academic growth and success.

Ashley Peoples moderated a discussion during a 3-hour family/mentor institute, part of the national peer training collaborative Team Up For Families (TUFF) at the 27th NFFCMH Conference.

Ashley Peoples moderated a discussion during a 3-hour family/mentor institute, part of the national peer training collaborative Team Up For Families (TUFF) at the 27th NFFCMH Conference.

GPS Youth Peer Coordinator Ashley People’s participation and leadership as a content developer on Team Up for Families (TUFF) was a true mission moment. TUFF is a family-driven learning collaborative of certified trainers working within systems of care from Maine to Hawaii.  Ashley is one of 16 youth peers chosen to develop the TUFF curriculum to teach youth and families to navigate systems effectively using tools such as the Team Up for Your Child step-by-step family guide.  Watching Ashley and her peers begin to tackle this awesome work reminded me of the tremendous strengths of youth with lived experience and the value of supporting their empowerment.  They are tomorrow’s leaders and the work we are doing together today could not happen without them!

The words of Sue Klebold, author of “A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy,” provided powerful mission moments. One of the conference’s keynote speakers, Sue is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two shooters at Columbine High School in 1999 who killed thirteen people before ending their own lives.  Sue reminded conference attendants that the work of youth, parent and family supporters truly matters and can have a life-saving impact. This tragedy galvanized a nation and, as a result, we are all more aware and focused on supporting families in every way possible.

Erin Callinan shares her poignant recovery story.

Erin Callinan shares her poignant recovery story.

Book author and board member of Mentally Ill Kids in Distress (MIKID), Erin Callinan brought another

 

powerful mission moment in her keynote speech about her experiences after unexpectedly being diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age seventeen – two weeks before beginning her senior year in high school. Erin validated our passion for and belief in the importance of facilitating and supporting youth, parents and families in creating natural and other supports, when she talked about how she and her family found hope and strength together to navigate her way through the fear, shame and stigma that follow being diagnosed with a serious mental illness.

Eric Bruns shares research on family support.

Eric Bruns shares research on
family support.

Eric Bruns, University of Washington’s Wraparound Evaluation and Research

 

Team director and Jane Walker, executive director of Family Run Executive Director Leadership Association (FREDLA) updated participants on the Patient Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI): the tiered process to build a proposal for family and research partnerships. Bruns and Walker and co-presenter Jane Adams, executive director of Keys for Networking in Kansas discussed family and research partnerships, engagement strategies, and building the evidence base for the value and efficacy of parent peer support.

We thank the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health for this 27th Annual Conference, the only national conference dedicated solely to issues that impact children and young adults with behavioral health challenges and their families.  We look forward to experiencing future NFFCMH Conference mission moments!