Wellness is a comprehensive term that means more than simply being free from illness, but an active and continual process specific to an individual with the ultimate goal to grow and thrive. Because wellness is not simply avoiding being sick, it must involve a dynamic and comprehensive approach that meets an individual’s physical, developmental, emotional and mental health needs. Canopy Children’s Solutions seeks to meet the growing and changing needs of children and families in Mississippi and to help inspire change outside of our state for the benefit children everywhere. This aspiration begins with comprehensive and integrated healthcare available at Canopy’s Center of Excellence in Jackson.

“Our goal is to raise the level of care for the children and families we serve,” said John D. Damon, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer for Canopy. “We want to make it easier for families to get their child treatment, and through a streamlined system our families will have the best available support for their specific needs. With the right tools and opportunities, every child can be a success story and it is our ultimate desire to see that happen for all Mississippi families.”

One major step in Canopy’s goal of offering superior integrated healthcare was opening the Canopy Center of Excellence in 2018. The Center provides quicker access to care for families and increases communication and collaboration between care providers. Canopy provides outpatient therapy, psychiatric evaluations and referrals, intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children on the autism spectrum, as well as medication management and telehealth solutions within one location.

Autism Solutions

The Early Intervention Autism Clinic is a collaborative state-of-the-art program that brings together research, technology and empirically supported therapies. Canopy recruits the highest quality clinicians certified to deliver ABA therapy, which is in high demand in the state. To date, prevalence rates for autism sit at one in 59 children—that’s more than 11,000 children in Mississippi alone.

“Families with children on the autism spectrum, for example, typically don’t just attend ABA therapy, but also speech therapy, occupational therapy and getting to all those places every week can be very challenging for a family,” said Shea Hutchins, Canopy Chief Solutions Officer. “We have a plan with the Center of Excellence that is going to ease this burden and create greater access to effective solutions for kids on the autism spectrum as well as those with mental and behavioral health challenges.”

Behavioral Health Solutions

Parents often know when their child is struggling—changes in temperament, activities, interests, etc., but it isn’t always easy to understand the “why” behind these changes. Most pediatricians are not specifically trained to diagnose and effectively treat mental health disorders, and surprisingly enough, getting access to a pediatric psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner can also be difficult. Once that initial appointment has been scheduled, families then need to follow up regularly with a therapist to help work on coping skills and mental or emotional impairments that impact daily function. Integrating a continuum of behavioral health helps families gain access to the type of help they need, when they need it.

“Our vision for the Center of Excellence is to provide rapid access to specialized behavioral health solutions that include high-value, comprehensive, and whole-person solutions,” said Hutchins. “According to the National Council on Behavioral Health, a Center of Excellence focuses on ‘supporting resiliency, recovery, excellent outcomes and high patient satisfaction.’ Canopy already provides such care to the community and this Center will help to elevate that status in the healthcare community by streamlining comprehensive care to our families.”

Under the Canopy

It takes a team effort from parents, teachers and others to raise a child, but it takes a very special community to support a child and family facing significant challenges. Canopy is proud to be that protective layer of support that surrounds families with not only world-class solutions, but also assistance and critical resources for comprehensive health and wellness. Placing focus on the health of the whole person, not separating the mental from the physical, is the recipe for creating change and helping every child become a success story.

This article appeared in the Northside Sun online news on April 25, 2019.