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Mitchell’s House Will Open in EArly 2022
Mitchell’s House is a non-profit counseling center for sick children with terminal or life-threatening diagnosis and their families.
Mitchell’s Fund seeks to improve the mental well-being of children and families who have experienced trauma due to childhood illness in the Charlotte metro area. Since 2016, we have provided funding to support two mental health counselors who work in the St. Jude Affiliate Clinic at Novant Health, and supported programs that promote understanding to reduce the stigma of mental health illness.
The Mitchell’s Fund counselors serve the most fragile of populations – children and families facing extremely serious, often deadly, illnesses. The counselors see more than 200 children each year, providing art, play and talk therapy. They help children navigate the shock of diagnosis, pain and anxiety during treatment and, in some cases, help children prepare for end of life. Last year, our counselors provided more than 350 therapy sessions to patients and their families at the St Jude Affiliate Clinic.
While working with these patients, we identified a dire need in services for our families. The needs of a sick child overwhelm a parent’s capacity to care for siblings, and siblings often have no mental health support during the most traumatic time in their lives. When a diagnosis and treatment of a life threatening or terminal childhood illness is added to the “normal” routine and stress level for a family, any prior mental health, domestic or financial issues that the family may have been experiencing are only magnified. This makes it even more important that sick children and their families have access to quality mental health services during and after treatment.
Our solution is Mitchell’s House, a safe space for children (ages 2-20) to share their worries and fears, while learning coping mechanisms during sibling medical crises. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network up to 80 percent of children and their families report experiencing traumatic stress following pediatric illness, injury, hospitalization or painful medical procedures. This experience is so common it has a specific term – pediatric medical traumatic stress or PMTS. Between 20 – 30 % of parents and 15 – 25% of children and siblings experience persistent traumatic stress reactions that impair daily functioning and affect treatment adherence and recovery.
Mitchell’s House will house two therapists who focus on child-focused therapy sessions utilizing art, play and talk therapy aimed at reducing a child’s traumatic impact, identify and utilize research-informed coping techniques and teach stress management skills. Our goal is to holistically support families by helping them prioritize mental health for their children during this pivotal time in their lives. Therapists will allow the children to grieve, express big or negative emotions without judgement, process difficult diagnosis while helping them learn emotional regulation, and balancing the reality of fear with the necessity of hope.
In our first year, we intend to provide at least 200 therapy sessions to children experiencing the trauma of sibling illness. Our office will be centrally located in Uptown Charlotte, accessible by bus or car. Also, our therapists will offer referrals for additional health resources, family group counseling sessions and help transition the families to KinderMourn or private counseling when necessary.
Medical debt for families experiencing a childhood illness is crippling and the number one detriment to access of mental and physical healthcare is finances. An increasing number of families are put in a situation to delay or forgo quality treatment simply because they cannot afford it. Mitchell’s Fund will offer our services to families on a sliding scale with payments from $0 to no more than $30 per session. We will subsidize the remaining contracted therapist fees for the families. Therapists in the Charlotte metro area average between $75 and $150 per session.
Mitchell’s House will be located at 428 E. Fourth Street in Center City Charlotte which is close to both children’s hospitals. The name Mitchell’s House was selected because it is more mainstream than a name like “Mitchell’s Counseling Center” and helps reduce stigma that sometimes surrounds mental health. Mitchell’s House will open in early 2022. For more information, contact Meg McElwain at 704.491.2053 or email@example.com
Mitchell Bays Turner Pediatric Fund