The $20,000 grant will pay for training for frontline staff to deliver Theraplay, a child and family therapy program to support healthy attachment between a child and caregiver.

North Eastern Ontario Family and Children’s Services (NEOFACS) in Timmins has received a $20,000 grant from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund. The money will pay for training for frontline staff to deliver Theraplay, a child and family therapy program to support healthy attachment between a child and caregiver.

As a Moving on Mental Health lead agency for northeastern Ontario, "NEOFACS is working to provide better access to mental health services for children and youth throughout the Cochrane and Timiskaming districts," the group said in a news release Thursday.

The funding will pay for training an additional 28 child and youth mental health clinicians, with the goal of building capacity to deliver Theraplay more widely throughout its service area. Additionally, Theraplay can be offered in a group format, delivering therapy to a number of children and parents at the same time, reducing waitlists.

“With this contribution from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund, we can expand our program capacity to provide more meaningful supports to children and their caregivers experiencing mental health challenges in all of our communities,” Josée Bélanger, director of services for child and youth mental health at NEOFACS, said in the release.

“We are excited about this opportunity for our staff and ultimately for our clients who will benefit from having Theraplay available to them.”

The training modules will be delivered online and the format will include live sessions and independent learning portions. Upon completion, participants will receive a certificate and be listed in the Theraplay Canada database.

Wonderful opportunity

“This is a wonderful opportunity to enhance clinicians’ skills and abilities to help build empathetic connections between children and their parents,” Karen Gurr, counselling and therapy services program supervisor at NEOFACS, said in the release. “Theraplay helps children to view themselves as worthy and lovable, and to change their perceptions of relationships to ones that are positive and rewarding.”

The program provides evidence-based intervention that can be used with all ages and may also be effective with children and youth who have special needs or developmental issues. Theraplay can help children who have experienced trauma begin to heal, can help children with developmental disorders feel more comfortable with social interaction, and can also help families experience happiness and connection.

“Bell Let’s Talk is pleased to help North Eastern Ontario Family and Children’s Services offer Theraplay training for more mental health clinicians in order to expand therapy services to more children and their parents and caregivers in Cochrane and Timiskaming,” Mary Deacon, chair of Bell Let’s Talk, said in the release. “The Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund supports a diverse range of community-based organizations throughout the country, like NEOFACS, that are taking action to improve access to mental health care for young people and working to make a positive difference for them and their families through evidence-based programs that meet the needs of their communities.”

Bell Let’s Talk promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk Day and significant Bell funding of community care and access, research and workplace leadership initiatives throughout the country. To learn more, visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

NEOFACS is an integrated agency offering a number of programs and services for children, youth, and families experiencing mental health difficulties. To access services or to get help, you can reach NEOFACS 24/7 at 705- 360-7100 or toll-free at 1-800-665-7743 in the Cochrane District or 1-866-229-5437 in the Timiskaming District.

For more information, visit www.neofacs.org.