UMass Medical School Sibling Support Program Director to share strategies to help siblings of children with mental health needs

April 27, 2016

The director of UMass Medical School’s Sibling Support Program will discuss the experience of siblings of children with mental health issues and the strategies that can be used to support them at the Wayside Youth & Family Support Network May 2. The presentation is being held to celebrate Children’s Mental Health Week.

Emily Rubin, MA, creator and director of the Sibling Support Program at UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, will present “The Sibling Experience and How We Can Help our Children/Youth,” sponsored by the Wayside Parent/Peer Partnership, from noon to 2 p.m. Rubin also is a lecturer in psychiatry at UMass Medical School.

Rubin developed the Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative at the Shriver Center to address the complex needs of families during a child’s psychiatric crisis. Parent mentors, who have children with mental health needs, educate caregivers about the impact of a child’s mental illness on siblings, introduce strategies that build resiliency, and help parents access resources. Simultaneously, siblings meet in groups to share challenges and learn coping skills.

 The evidence-based program aims to improve outcomes for siblings of psychiatrically involved children and adolescents. The goals of the program are: to build resiliency and decrease trauma for siblings, stabilize families by teaching parents strategies to support siblings, educate clinicians and trainees about best practices in providing family centered mental health care, and reduce hospital readmissions.

The Sibling Support Program has been offered at the Franciscan Hospital for Children since December and has been running at Cambridge Health Alliance since November 2011.

Rubin also is president and co-founder of the Massachusetts Sibling Support Network.

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