Learn More About the Case Studies
What Are the Case Studies?
Extension CYFC’s online case studies introduce theories, research and practice ideas about children’s mental health within the ecological contexts in which children grow and develop. Each interactive, web-based case explores the experiences of a child and family over time, and presents case study users with questions about how to best meet their needs in that moment. The cases integrate research into common issues that come up in professional practice with children and families and invite users to “try on the hat” of specific professionals when answering questions and completing activities.
Each case study reflects a set of themes that the child and family experience. For example:
- The About Steven case study addresses adolescent depression, school mental health, rural mental health services, and social/emotional development.
- The Brianna and Tanya case study reflects themes of infant and early childhood mental health, educational disparities, trauma and toxic stress, financial insecurity, and intergenerational issues.
Each case identifies the needs of a child at specific stages of development and prompts users to make effective, research-based practice decisions.
By completing a case study participants will:
- Utilize research in making practice decisions.
- Examine the needs of children from an interdisciplinary perspective.
- Recognize the importance of prevention/early intervention in children’s mental health.
- Apply ecological and developmental perspectives to children’s mental health.
- Predict probable outcomes for children based on services they receive.
Why a case study format?
There are important challenges within children’s mental health service delivery systems.
- Services can be disconnected and hard to access.
- Stigma can prevent people from seeking help.
- Parents, teachers, and other direct providers can become overwhelmed with piecing together a system of care that meets the needs of an individual child.
- Professionals can be unaware of the theories and perspectives under which other professionals serving the same family work, and also face challenges doing interdisciplinary work.
- Finally, limited funding promotes competition between organizations trying to serve families.
Case studies introduce characters with history, relationships, and real-life problems. They offer users the opportunity to examine all these details, as well as pertinent research, and use analytic reasoning to make informed decisions about intervention based on the information that is available to them.
The case study format also allows users to see how preventive decisions can change outcomes later on. At every step, the case content and learning format encourages users to review the research to inform their decisions, and emphasizes the need to consider a growing child within ecological, developmental, and interdisciplinary frameworks.
- Ecological approaches consider all the levels of influence on a child.
- Developmental approaches recognize that children are constantly growing and developing, and typically learn some things before other things.
- Interdisciplinary perspectives recognize that the needs of children will not be met within the perspectives and theories of a single discipline.
Who are case studies for?
The case studies are designed with many audiences in mind:
- Practitioners from a variety of fields (for example, social work, education, nursing, public health, mental health, and others).
- Professionals in training, including those attending graduate or undergraduate classes.
- The broader community.
This format engages many types of professionals from many disciplines without relegating care of the child to just one professional. Each case is based on the research, theories, practices and perspectives of people in all these fields. Specifically, the case studies emphasize the importance of considering an interdisciplinary framework; children’s needs cannot be met within the perspective of a single discipline. The complex problems children face require solutions that integrate many and diverse ways of knowing. The case studies also help everyone better understand the mental health needs of children. We all have a role to play.
How can I use these case studies?
For more information on using the case studies, see one of the case study webpages linked under "Related Resources."
Brianna and Tanya: A Case Study About Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health — Explore this case study which focuses on a young African American mother, her daughter from infancy through kindergarten, and the many influences on their lives.
About Steven: A Children’s Mental Health Case Study About Depression — Work through this case study which focuses on a young Caucasian family and their son Steven from his infancy through adolescence.