The Mosaic of Mental Health Workshop Trainings

The first two workshops for the Mosaic of Mental Health series for pediatric rheumatologists and other providers occurred on October 13 and 27, 2022. These two-hour workshops were sponsored by Cure JM, hosted by the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, and offered Continuing Education credits.

More than 90 people registered for both sessions, including physicians, nurses, social workers, and psychologists from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Spain, and Puerto Rico. 

Attendance varied from 45 in the first workshop to 35 in the second workshop. Clearly, the need for mental health care has risen to epidemic proportions, exacerbated and made more visible due to COVID-19. Mental health needs are even greater for those children and families living with rheumatic and chronic illnesses.

Drs. Tala El Tal and Andrea Knight of Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto piloted a mental health training program in their Rheumatology Division. I talked with Dr. Knight about bringing this program to a larger population. As a result, the Mosaic of Mental Health was born.

The first workshop’s topics and presenters included the following: 

  • An introduction with interactive feedback to gauge the level of current needs, access to assessments, and resources in rheumatology clinics—Dr. Tala El Tal
  • The importance of mental health (MH) in pediatric rheumatology and its impact on patients and families—Dr. Andrea Knight 
  • MH bedside skills: How to start informal MH discussions before screening—Sharon Lorber, MSW—Hospital for Sick Kids 
  • Identifying signs and symptoms of depression/anxiety—Alana Goldstein-Leever, PsyD.-Nationwide Hospital for Children
  • Screening tools for assessing depression/anxiety—Dr. Kaveh Ardalan—Duke University
  • Suicide Risk assessment—Alana Goldstein-Leever, PsyD.

The second workshop’s topics and presenters included the following: 

  • Safety Planning for Suicide-Alana Goldstein-Leever, PsyD
  • MH Screening workflow and logistics—Dr. Tala El Tal
  • Coping Adjustment—Mariel Del Paz, MSW; UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy—Natoshia Cunningham, Ph.D.; Michigan State University
  • Art & Play Therapy—Michelle Itczak, MA, LMHC, ATR-BC, ATCS—Riley Children’s and University of Indiana

In addition to using an app for polling on-screen, we had short break-out sessions with facilitators to allow for smaller group discussions. The second session focused more on implementing screening and assessments, finding referral resources and learning from each other.

Some of the takeaways include:

  • More willingness on the part of current providers to begin conversations about MH with their patients and families
  • An understanding that assessments and screenings can be done quickly and efficiently
  • An awareness that there are algorithms for suicidality risk, assessment and safety planning
  • A willingness to look for more resources to support MH in the pediatric rheumatology clinic

Recordings of the proceedings can be viewed on our YouTube channel:

Session #1 

Session #2

Future plans include a second series of workshops in the spring of 2023, taking into account the feedback received from participants. We hope to reach more people in the next iteration. Additionally, planning has begun on training workshops for future Pediatric Rheumatology Fellows. Stay tuned!

Dr. Megan Curran, from Colorado Children’s Hospital, one of our JM experts, had this to say about the workshop and Cure JM’s mental health programs:

“As a pediatric rheumatologist who loves caring for patients with juvenile myositis, I am so proud that Cure JM has prioritized building mental health support for patients at so many levels. These webinars are one layer of the master plan, including hiring a mental health coordinator, adding mental health resources to their webpage, and funding mental health grants. It was great seeing old friends from across the country and meeting new colleagues while discussing barriers and facilitators to mental health resources and care at our workplaces. Learning about “best practices” from well-resourced sites was inspiring but frustrating at the same time. Providing care to the whole patient requires strong institutional support and a team-based approach, but our care sites have varying resources. Ongoing advocacy from Cure JM families and CARRA PARTNERS will be vital to make continued progress in improving mental health resources at the sites where we care for patients with pediatric rheumatic disease.”

Dr. Aliese Sarkissian, from UNC @ Chapel Hill, had this to say about the workshops:

“As a pediatric rheumatologist, I see the extra emotional stress and burden that having a chronic condition brings to our patients and their families. It is so important that we are aware of our patient’s mental health as part of their complete care. I am so grateful that Cure JM Foundation has prioritized mental health with dedicated resources, including their recent mental health workshops. The workshops were so helpful in furthering my learning so that I could provide better emotional health support for my patients. I also made connections with other pediatric rheumatology providers who also have a vested interest in supporting the emotional health of patients. I left the workshops feeling inspired and hopeful for future improvements in my practice to provide the best care for my patients!”

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