- Paul Thomlinson, PhD, Executive Director, Compass Health Network, Springfield, MO
The CDC reports the number of youth in the United States in the overweight and obese category has reached epidemic proportions which has led to more youth being diagnosed with chronic health conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes. One in five youth between the ages of 12 to 19 fall in the obese category of the Body Mass Index (BMI). Given the gravity of this health crisis, Behavioral Healthcare Homes (HCH) devote time and effort to promoting education, awareness, health screens, and preventative care. The goal is to have youth experience wellness now and to grow up to live healthy lives as adults. At Compass Health Network in Missouri, HCH is part of a multi-disciplinary team that is integrated with community support programs to provide individualized, goal-oriented psychiatric rehabilitative services to youth experiencing serious mental illness. Recently, Compass (a Certified Community Behavioral Health Organization) unearthed an alarming piece of data, indicating that 48.43% of their youth enrollees fall in the overweight or obese categories, according to their growth charts. Considering nearly half of the youth served are in the overweight or obese category, Compass’s HCH staff created a training about the causes, prevalence, and consequences of childhood obesity for frontline behavioral health staff. The purpose of the training was to inform frontline staff of ways to prevent diabetes, so they are equipped to educate families on the impact of their daily nutrition and activity choices. The training provided a focus on integrating healthy habits into the behavioral healthcare service array already being provided. A crucial design component is that the training strived to create nuanced understanding that does not promote blaming of the family. Over 290 staff have been trained to promote healthy choices among the youth with whom they work, by communicating in a non-judgmental manner that assumes best intentions and values self-determination. The goal of the training was to educate and empower families to live full, healthy, productive lives, which furthers our mission of inspiring hope and promoting wellness. This poster will describe the training program and provide initial evaluation data indicating effectiveness in addressing this crucial area of need.
- Recognize impact of a childhood obesity epidemic that leads to poor health outcomes, particularly among youth with behavioral health challenges.
- Discuss the importance of prevention strategies that promote healthy lifestyle habits in childhood that continue into adulthood.
- Describe a model for youth diabetes prevention training for frontline integrated community behavioral health staff, including preliminary outcomes.