Strive for Success

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By Cassandra West

Once a family decides a child needs mental health treatment, the web is just beginning.

Strive for Success is a program under MBHAC that provides care coordination and patient navigation for youth and families in District 97 middle schools, grades 5 through 8. The program offers comprehensive individualized, multi-cultural and community-based service supports reinforcing systems of care and behavioral health services for minority residents in Oak Park. 

Strive for Success stepped up a few years ago when Arbutus Winfrey needed help for her son, who was struggling emotionally following her divorce and the death of her mother. "He was depressed, but he won't admit it," she said.

Candice Martin, one of the two care coordinators for Strive for Success, connected Winfrey and her son to Pillars, a program that offers parental guidance and support and behavioral stabilization services. "I was in need of positive male role models and Candice connected me to other male mentors," said Winfrey.

Martin said she works with a parent and child "to see what's going on, if it's depression or anxiety or school refusal then we refer them to services in and around Oak Park." Clients can come to her office or Martin and Raheem Young, the other SFS care coordinator, visit them at home or meet in neutral location like the library.

"We do an initial interview to collect background information, demographic info. We then do a strength and difficulty assessment that breaks down social, emotional and hyperactivity issues. Based on that, we make referrals for tutoring, mental health support group, individual therapy, mentoring program," said Martin.

"Our main thing is being a bridge to treatment. Making referrals to appropriate providers to make sure [clients are] not on a wait list."

SAY Connects is sponsored by the Good Heart Work Smart Foundation in partnership with Success for All Youth (SAY).

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