We are fortunate to expand our Mental Health component of the Kids Ranch program to include year-round assessment and counseling for the children we serve.
Along with working to increase their literacy, our goal is to lift up our children, improve their self- esteem, increase their emotional resiliency, and learn life skills that they can successfully apply in the face of their many challenges.
The life situations of many of the children we serve can be very challenging. Many of the children come from families that live in chronic poverty, several of the children have suffered the loss of one, or in some cases, both parents; many live with the chaos and pain of addiction in their families. Other problems the children present are depression, anxiety, undiagnosed learning disabilities, anger problems, grief and trauma; some have experienced more than one abandonment by parents or guardians.
Our mental health encounters with the children occur in both individual and group settings. Our goal is to teach them tools and skills for reducing stress and managing inner conflict, to develop self-soothing behaviors and self-care skills. Some of the self-care techniques the children learn are mindful breathing, progressive relaxation exercises, the importance of physical exercise, mood management through cognitive change, problem solving skills, reframing situations to look for what they can change, or strengths they can build from their current situation. We seek to help the child discover that he or she is powerful and capable of choosing positive thoughts and behaviors. We teach them to work toward accepting what has happened in the past, and to reach for what can be in the future.
Through the dual focus of the interventions of literacy and mental health services, the Kids Ranch is helping to build caring, capable and confident children. As Kids Ranch staff, we are honored to be involved in building up the next generation of healthy, effective and successful adults.