Falls Church - McLean Children's Center

Committed to helping young children with mental health issues get the help they need to recover and avoid the long-term effects of “toxic stress,” The O’Shaughnessy-Hurst Memorial Foundation, Inc. of Leesburg, VA, recently awarded Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center a second, $15,000 grant for mental health therapy.

“Increasing numbers of children are exhibiting emotional distress, which is interfering with their ability to build relationships and take part in learning opportunities in our classrooms,” explained Crystal Jean, Children’s Center Executive Director.

“Therapy with a trained mental health professional can help a child understand the cause of her emotions and help her trust that parents keep her safe while they tend to the situation, whatever it may be,” Jean said.

“Children need to know they are safe. Then they can return their own tasks of making friends and learning through play.”

The grant funds behavioral therapy with a licensed counselor for children, individually and with their parents, as well as therapy for parents to help them address their child’s emotional needs and reconcile the family’s issues.

Children as young as two years old can experience “toxic stress” as a result of a family’s long-term struggles due to an extremely low income, or from witnessing a single, disturbing incident of domestic violence. If misdiagnosed as defiance or attention-getting behavior, a child’s self-esteem can be eroded along with her ability to build healthy relationships with peers or adults. Long-term “toxic stress” also can cause serious health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

O’Shaughnessy-Hurst awarded the Children’s Center a similar grant last year that provided mental health services for four children from two families.

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