Grants Helps FSU College of Medicine Combat Stress for Kids

The Florida State University College of Medicine has been awarded a $3 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The goal? To illuminate the path to effective behavioral and physical health treatment for the children of rural and migrant farmworkers.

The five-year grant also recognizes the medical school’s Immokalee Health Education Site as a Treatment and Service Adaptation Center for the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative network.

“This funding will support our effort to develop and validate instruments and interventions, to soundly study best implementation practices and to disseminate information and train personnel across the nation to serve children from rural and migrant farm-working families,” says Project Director Elena Reyes, the College of Medicine’s regional director for Southwest Florida.

Research shows that children who experience adverse childhood experiences without a buffer or other intervention have increased frequency of mental, physical and social problems now and later in life, including depression, PTSD, anxiety, COPD, diabetes, obesity, cancer and eating disorders. They’re also more likely to smoke, become alcoholic, use illegal drugs and attempt suicide.

The more adverse events they experience, the greater the likelihood and intensity of health problems. The situation is more acute for children of migrant farmworkers.

“Migratory lifestyles, poverty and overall consistent exposure to trauma — all are contributing factors,” Reyes said. “The parents are facing the same level of stress themselves, including depression, problems related to socioeconomic status, their own history of trauma and barriers to health care. They’re not able to provide the protective buffer needed by these young children.”

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