Youth Mental Health Treatment Can Help Communities Stop School Shootings

Posted by Susan Ofstein, MST Expert, Community Solutions, Inc., New York


Communities are looking for answers to stop school shootings: 
MST's mental health treatment can play a vital role

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 was like any other Wednesday for me. I was wrapping up my meetings for the day until I received an urgent text from my husband, asking if I had seen the news about Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL—our oldest nephew’s school. He told me that our nephew, Blake, was okay and his dad was on his way to get him. I was thankful for that moment, but then the news began to come in about the other victims of this senseless act of violence. We called to check on our family, who is very involved in the Parkland community, and everyone was in shock. Blake spoke with my husband and told him that his football coach had passed away, but said “It’s okay, he died a hero.” His words stunned both of us. The following week, he attended the funerals of his four friends who were killed and his beloved hero, Assistant Coach Aaron Feis.

When watching the maturity and passion of Blake and his peers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, I have hope for our future. I do also worry. 

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Topics: youth mental health treatment, stop school shootings, prevent school shootings

A Mother's Positive Change Helps Influence Her Son's Success

Posted by Phillip Jean-Louis Jr., MST Therapist, Life Changing Solutions, LLC

To honor Mother's Day, we are sharing a few stories over the next few weeks that honor our amazing MST mothers. Today we are sharing a story of one mom in Louisiana who changed her life to help her son

Jared had two weeks to produce a clean drug screen for drug court, or he was facing six months in detention. Two weeks is not a lot of time, especially when he was smoking many bowls of marijuana and half-a-pack of cigarettes every day. On top of that, he had already missed more than 20 days of school, and it was only November. I knew that his truancy also needed to be addressed, but as his Multisystemic Therapy (MST) therapist, I had to focus first and foremost on helping Jared get clean for his drug screen.

It was a hard two weeks. Mom, who was also using marijuana, was frustrated. Jared was frustrated. Drug court was frustrated. The frustration was all understandable, and during that time, I was the only one with hope. I knew we could do it, but I also knew I needed to be honest with Jared about how high the stakes were. In the end, the choice was theirs: The entire family had to change their behavior and help Jared get clean, or they would be helping him pack his bags for detention.


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MST Gives Mum Skills to Turn Life Around

Posted by Colette Beatson, MST Supervisor, Barnsley-Rotherham MST Team

Mum went from hopeless to in control after MST therapist reinforces skills

As a Multisystemic Therapy (MST) supervisor, I always feel incredibly privileged to meet with families and hear about their experiences working with MST. It fills me with immense pride when I see the work that our therapists undertake with families to help them change their lives.

Recently, I met with a mum who had completed treatment. She shared the amazing journey the family had been on with their MST therapist. She said that even though her time with MST had ended, the impact of the program hadn’t stopped.

mst gives mum skills

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A Coordinated Approach to Preventing Placement

Posted by Lori Moore, Manager of U.K. Network Partnership

Police and professionals get called out to the home. Family members are about to give up...

Her family life was marked by violence. Family members felt so hopeless and unsafe, they constantly rang the police and other professionals for help. Professionals felt so hopeless as she and her family continued to pull on the limited resources of the community. More calls-outs came to the police from her home than any other. Everyone reached the conclusion the only solution was to place the girl in care. 

But not so fast

This young person was lucky. Her community has Multisystemic Therapy (MST), a proven evidence-based treatment program that helps keep young people like her safely at home, in school, while it restores the balance of how community resources are used.  

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MST-CAN: Stopping Child Abuse and Neglect

Posted by Joanne Penman, Manager of MST-CAN Transport & Femke Kamphius, MST-CAN Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist from the Netherlands explains the role that MST-CAN can play in stopping child abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Children being harmed physically and psychologically are a problem for our society that has long-lasting costs for everyone. Children may experience lifelong mental and physical health problems, substance-misuse; homelessness; and involvement in the criminal justice system.

Authorities, schools and others are bombarded with concerns.

“I don’t think the children are safe in his care.” 

“Those parents are beyond help.”

“That mother is out of control. Somebody should do something.” 


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Wigan MST Helps Prevent Placement

Posted by Garry Blackburn, MST Supervisor

This young boy was headed to placement, but MST helped him remain in the home

Kyle* made it clear to his parents that they had taken “everything away” from him and didn’t understand him. He took out his anger by getting into trouble. Stealing, joy-riding, using drugs, hanging out with friends who were bad influences. And the police constantly knocking on the door.

Kyle’s parents sought help from four different services that achieved different levels of success. But at the end of the day, Kyle showed little improvement, the police kept arriving with the boy moving closer and closer to placement. The mother remembers “the worst was the feeling you had failed as a parent that you hadn’t done enough, and this was our fault.”

wigan council MST

Members of the Action for Children Wigan MST team, above


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Topics: success stories,

Locking Up Youth for Status Offenses Is Counterproductive

Posted by Laurie Spivey, MST-FIT Expert

Putting youth behind bars for status offenses doesn't make communities safer

I am 38 years old. I am a wife and mother of three kids. We live in the suburbs with our dog, a hamster and two fish. I take my kids to gymnastics class, and I wait in the car-pool line. My life is not unusual. It’s just that I have an extraordinary job. 

For 14 years now, I have worked with kids who are on probation and parole. When I say the words “probation” or “parole,” I get lots of interesting reactions. Many people don’t seem to know that kids go to prison in America. Their kids haven’t been incarcerated, and so, it’s the furthest thing from their minds. The facts of youth incarceration in America are heart wrenching. While most people imagine young people to be behind bars for violent offenses, this is not the reality. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, the real truth is that 95 percent of kids held in detention centers are not there as a result of violent behavior. Perhaps more shocking is the fact that a large percentage are detained and sometimes even placed long term for status offenses.

 status offenses are counterintuitive

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How One City in Ohio Reduced Youth Imprisonment

Posted by Maureen Kishna

After years of collaborating, two local leaders helped bring MST to Toledo, Ohio and saw reductions in youth incarceration

When you meet matriarchs, you just know it. You feel their power, and you recognize their force. That’s how I felt when I made the acquaintance of Deborah Hodges, administrator of the Lucas County (Ohio) Juvenile Court and her colleague, Karen Olnhausen of their Mental Health and Recovery Services Board. In 2010, I met them at the launch of Toledo’s Multisystemic Therapy (MST) program. These are the ladies whom I affectionately call the godmothers of MST in Toledo because they had worked for years to bring it to their community. Finally, their goal was achieved through funding from the Ohio Department of Youth Services Behavioral Health Juvenile Justice Initiative.

toledo, OH

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Powerful Video Testimony from an MST Mother

Posted by Josh Glade

At MST Services, we’re on a mission to transform the lives of troubled youth and their families.  It’s why we come to work each day.  I’m incredibly proud to be united with such a talented and passionate community of colleagues, network partners, teams, families and stakeholders. 

I was in the audience when Sheila, an MST mother, told the story of her family’s journey with MST.  I was blown away by her courage and love for her child. 

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Topics: MST, Multisystemic Therapy, MST Services

A Letter to Families Beginning MST

Posted by An MST parent in the UK

A mother counsels others on the benefits of MST

By the time a family enters Multisystemic Therapy (MST), the downhill journey into despair has been going on for a long time. They feel alone and without hope. A mother in the U.K. certainly felt like that.

Her son was violent and threatening. So much so that the mother was relieved when he wasn’t home, even though she didn’t know where he was, who he was with or what kind of trouble he was getting into. Her stomach churned when she heard his key in the door. This was not the way to live. And to top it off, she labelled herself a failure. “I had nothing left to give. I was often tearful and overwhelmed,” she recalled.

Then MST arrived. After completing the program, the mother wrote a letter for families who are embarking on the road in search of real, lasting help for their child through MST. 

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Topics: family stories,

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