Building Staff & Family Readiness for Consultation

Building Staff & Family Readiness for Consultation

caretakers and toddlers

As your program begins the process of implementing the mental health strategic plan, and making changes in the consultation process, it will be important to make sure that your organization is “ready” to support positive change. Research has found that in order for mental health consultation to be effective, staff and families must be “ready” to be partners in the consultation process (Duran et al, 2009). Staff who are “ready” to participate in consultation are staff who are not threatened by a consultant coming into their classroom, who are open to learning from the consultant, and who are interested in working collaboratively with the consultant to identify new strategies and ways to facilitate success for children and families. One of the key ways to build readiness in your program is through your leadership role, and making sure that you communicate to staff that:

  • Consultation is normative — something that supports all staff.
  • Consultation is not “punitive” — it does not mean staff are not doing their job well.
  • Consultants are “part of the Head Start team” helping to make sure the program services best meet children’s needs.
  • Consultants are not here to “fix children” but rather to partner with staff to help support a holistic mental health approach.
  • Consultants are available to staff when they need them and ready to respond to questions and requests.

It is important to recognize that staff may carry preconceived notions about mental health that may negatively impact their willingness to work with the consultants. It will be important for you to communicate and educate staff about the consultants’ role in supporting holistic mental health approaches and to help eliminate stigma around the concept of mental health.

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This product was developed [in part] under grant number 1H79SM082070-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.