Assistant Professor Julie Bertram aims to help meet the mental health needs of youth in foster care through Wrap Around Wellness Program
Assistant Professor Julie Bertram, a renowned expert in child and adolescent mental health, has recently taken on an ambitious new project: addressing the mental health needs of youth in foster care through a Wrap Around Wellness Program. This innovative program aims to provide comprehensive mental health support to young people who have experienced trauma and instability in their lives, with the ultimate goal of improving their overall well-being and reducing the likelihood of negative outcomes in adulthood.
Bertram, who teaches in the Department of Psychology at a leading research university, has long been passionate about finding effective ways to support the mental health needs of vulnerable youth. Her research has focused on the impact of trauma and adversity on child and adolescent development, and she has become increasingly concerned about the unique challenges faced by young people in foster care.
“Children and adolescents in foster care often experience significant trauma and disruption in their lives, which can have lasting effects on their mental health,” Bertram explains. “Many of these young people struggle with a range of issues, including anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems, and they often don’t have access to the kind of comprehensive support they need to help them heal and thrive.”
The Wrap Around Wellness Program represents Bertram’s response to this pressing need. The program is designed to provide a holistic approach to mental health care, addressing the complex and interconnected challenges faced by youth in foster care. It brings together a team of mental health professionals, social workers, and other experts to provide personalized support to each young person, with a focus on building resilience and promoting positive development.
“One of the key principles of the program is the idea of ‘wraparound’ care, which means that we’re looking at each young person as a whole individual, taking into account their unique strengths and challenges, as well as the specific circumstances they’re facing,” Bertram explains. “We’re aiming to provide a comprehensive network of support that addresses not only their mental health needs, but also their social, emotional, and educational needs.”
The program is still in its early stages, but Bertram and her team are already seeing promising results. Initial evaluations of the program have shown significant improvements in the mental health and well-being of the young people who have participated, with many reporting reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, improved self-esteem, and better relationships with peers and caregivers.
“We’re really encouraged by the early feedback we’ve received from the young people and families who have been involved in the program,” Bertram says. “It’s clear that this kind of comprehensive, individualized support can make a real difference in the lives of these young people, and we’re excited to see how we can continue to refine and expand the program to reach even more youth in foster care.”
In addition to her work on the Wrap Around Wellness Program, Bertram is also conducting research to better understand the mental health needs of youth in foster care, and to identify effective strategies for supporting their well-being. She has been working closely with social service agencies, foster care providers, and other community partners to gather data and insights that can inform the development and implementation of the program.
“It’s essential to have a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities that youth in foster care face,” Bertram explains. “We need to be able to tailor our interventions to the specific needs of this population, and that requires a strong foundation of research and collaboration with those who are working directly with these young people.”
Ultimately, Bertram hopes that the Wrap Around Wellness Program will serve as a model for other communities and organizations seeking to improve the mental health outcomes for young people in foster care. She is eager to share her findings and best practices with others in the field, and to collaborate with partners who are equally committed to making a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable youth.
“We know that the mental health needs of youth in foster care are often overlooked or underserved, and it’s time to change that,” Bertram says. “Our hope is that by demonstrating the effectiveness of this kind of comprehensive, personalized support, we can inspire others to take similar approaches, and ultimately create a network of care that truly meets the needs of these young people.”
As Bertram and her team continue to build and refine the Wrap Around Wellness Program, they are pursuing additional funding and support to expand their reach and impact. They are also engaging in advocacy and awareness-building efforts to highlight the importance of addressing the mental health needs of youth in foster care, and to promote the adoption of evidence-based, trauma-informed practices in this critical area of child and adolescent mental health.
“We can’t afford to overlook the needs of these young people, and we can’t afford to settle for inadequate or fragmented support systems,” Bertram states. “We have a responsibility to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to thrive, and that includes those who have experienced the kind of adversity and trauma that often accompanies life in foster care. I’m committed to doing everything I can to help make that vision a reality.”