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By Javari Burnett, WMDT-TV

MILFORD, Del. – “I had a couple of them tell me that I was the problem and that I was a bad mom. That I wanted something to be wrong with my child,” Messick said.

Barbara Messick is a mother of three, with each having a mental health diagnosis at an early age. It was through her struggle to find resources that she changed her narrative, birthing Champions For Children’s Mental Health.

“I overcame my fears. I overcame what people said about me. I overcame what people thought I couldn’t be. So yeah, I am a champion because I’m doing for others what I wish someone would’ve done for me,” Executive Director of Champions For Children’s Mental Health Barbara Messick said.

Since 2018, CCMH has provided resources for almost 800 families across the first state. Recently, they opened an office space in the Milford Wellness Village,  a push to expand their networking. The non-profit provides a variety of support services for families with children ages 3 to 17 with mental health or behavioral issues, including family support provider training.

“We understand you’re going to break down and cry. We’re going to break down and cry with you probably but then we’re going to make a plan to move forward. We’re not just going to leave you in that low place” Messick said. “And we might not have the exact same experiences as the families we serve, but we can certainly relate.”

The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that 50% of all cases began by age 14.

“The 10 -13 age group, kind of the tween age group, I find is a very good age to start treatment. But, it may be that you’ve seen signs earlier in their life,” Child Psychologist Dr. Kathy Seifert said.  “If these mental health issues are showing up in childhood there’s a very good likely hood that it’s related to trauma.”

To tackle that trauma, Messick says parents need to be seen as partners in their child’s treatment. It’s something she wants to see more of. “But they are the experts of their child. Nobody can tell you more about your child than you can. You gave birth to them, you raised them. You’re with them more than the 15 minutes they’re in the office with a professional,” Messick said.

The Family Support Providers help parents navigate through Delaware’s health care systems and teach them how to advocate for their children.

Messick also wants parents to know they’re not alone and that each child is different.

The Family Support Services are free to families who have Medicaid. To find out more about CCMH, click here.