Ohio Hills Health Services (OHHS) was awarded a $2,064.76 through the Foundation for Appalachia Ohio Gulfport Energy Fund. This grant provided materials for play therapy, a type of therapy that allows children suffering from trauma to talk, do activities, practice new skills and solve problems as a means of responding to a wide variety of mental health issues. Materials purchased through the grant include art supplies, such as paints and clay, and interactive tools, such as puppets and dolls.
“We are extremely grateful to the Gulfport Energy Fund for this grant. This funding has provided us the tools to expand the play therapy program, which is offered through our Behavioral Health counseling program,” said Jeff Britton, CEO, OHHS. “We often think of childhood as a carefree time. However, for many children in our region that is not the case. The opioid crisis and online bullying are two examples where children could possibly benefit from counseling.”
OHHS implemented a Behavioral Health program in April 2019. The therapists provide treatment for individuals, families and children. However, children often do not have the language skills needed to convey what they are feeling in words especially if they experience traumatic events at very young ages. Therapists use play therapy to help children express what is troubling them. During play therapy children are encouraged to talk, do activities, practice new skills and solve problems.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the anxiety and isolation that many of our children are experiencing,” said Penny Shepherd, LPCC-S, Behavioral Health Counselor. “The play therapy materials purchased through this grant provide us with additional tools to respond to the mental health needs of children. By addressing problems through play therapy children are often able to find healthier solutions.”
Play therapy is beneficial for children ages 3-11 and can be used to address a wide variety of issues. For the child who is having behavioral problems, difficulty making friends, showing signs of anxiety or depression, or struggling with grief following a death, divorce, or other traumatic experiences behavioral counseling can provide the necessary skills and support they need to cope and to thrive.
The Gulfport Energy Fund Grant provided the funding for OHHS to purchase the tools the therapists require for a successful play therapy program and to make a difference in the lives of area children. Play therapy tools include easels, puppet theater, table sandbox, doll houses, dolls, puppets, children's books, puzzles, paints, and clay.
Play therapy is one of the most effective techniques to support children and break the cycle of childhood adversities. Trauma and abuse which is not addressed in childhood can affect mental and physical health into adulthood. Behavioral health services are offered through OHHS at the Barnesville Family Health Center and the Monroe Family Health Center. OHHS offers a sliding fee discount program and accepts Medicaid. For an appointment call 740-239-6447.