A few years ago, a research team, led by Gloria Reeves, MD, (Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Division, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Maryland), examined the impact of a family navigator model of helping families in the Family VOICE (Value of Information, Community Support and Experience) Study. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Volume 23, Number 12, December 2015.
Researchers trained family members with lived experience caring for a child with mental health needs as family navigators. Consumer stakeholders helped design the navigator model used in the study. In the study:
- The family navigator would initiate contact with a family
- All contact would be by phone
- Contact would be time-limited to 90 days
The study found three key things about family navigation:
- The flexibility of navigators was important to helping families – the navigators’ availability included early morning, evening and week-end hours
- Families of Medicaid-insured youth with mental health needs often had significant other needs, such as help with housing and food
- Families were willing to disclose sensitive information to navigators who had shared lived experience, even though contact was only via telephone
If you or your child fit the profile of a research study recruitment effort, please consider participating. There may be great benefit to other children and families.