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Caring for the Children: Advocating for the Health and Well-Being of Children Statewide

Matt LaCasse: It’s pretty much always been an interest. I decided to focus on psychiatry in medical school. I quickly became interested in drug addiction, especially teenage drug addiction.

Burns: Can you explain a bit about your role at Michigan Children’s Hospital?

LaCasse: I am a staff psychiatrist and my role is to help children who are medically hospitalized. We also do a lot of work from the emergency department, helping children in crisis.

Burns: Were you surprised by anything you saw because of COVID?

LaCasse: It has been a very difficult few years. In general, people have difficulties that need to be dealt with professionally. The trend is for children to use more services.

Burns: The Children’s Foundation and many of our donors will be working with you in the near future. Tell us about that.

LaCasse: The field of addiction today, especially for teens and young adults, is a very difficult place to get into because there aren’t a lot of services. What is absolutely necessary is a clinic that gives access to children.

Philanthropic money would allow us to not turn away any child because of their confidence or ability to support themselves. We will provide medication, treatment, and general mental health treatment. The clinic will be online this year and will serve the Detroit metro area.

Burns: Will this be a clinic for people in crisis?

LaCasse: Essentially, our doors will be open to anyone who calls and says, “I’m fighting.” It will be adapted to the adolescent population.

Burns: What other healthcare providers will be part of it?

LaCasse: Therapists and case managers will do a lot of individual therapy, family therapy. Doctors will provide psychiatric check-ups, medication reviews, provide medications, and somehow oversee the operations of the clinic.

Burns: Is family therapy part of the process?

LaCasse: Drug addiction is rarely isolated; there are often unresolved conflicts with parents or other mental health issues within the family. If we close our eyes, it would be hard to expect problems to really change. But if we are able to address these issues and take care of the family as a whole and as a unit, the results seem better.

Larry Burns: Tell us about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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