Mission and Vision
Our mission is to provide accessible, community-based mental health services and advocacy that promote healthy and resilient lives for children and families, and the entire staff of the Clifford Beers Clinic is committed to achieving this goal.
The Clinic aims to accomplish its mission by first recognizing that the overall problem of children’s mental health has reached epidemic proportions. Throughout the country, children are routinely exposed to multiple complex stressors that have been termed “adverse childhood experiences” or ACEs. ACEs include events such as traumatic loss, bereavement, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and parental incarceration. At our Clinic in New Haven, Connecticut, we see thousands of children each year and have found that approximately 70% of the children we treat have had at least one adverse childhood experience. On average, the children we treat have been exposed to three ACE events.
When a child is exposed to more than three ACEs, research shows there can be lifelong physical and behavioral health consequences. If left untreated, the child can develop stress of a “toxic” nature. So harmful is this toxic stress that it puts a child at increased risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and lifelong mental health difficulties. Additionally, the child becomes a more likely candidate for incarceration, violent behavior, and early death. Further consequences of toxic stress include an inability to finish school, hold a job, or maintain healthy social relationships.
Thankfully, children are resilient, and with proper treatment we believe each child can make a recovery. Our treatment approach is family-focused and “trauma-informed.” Trauma-informed care is distinctive because it acknowledges the role that trauma (for example, an ACE event) plays in the child’s life and recognizes the presence of symptoms unique to specific types of trauma. We do not ask a child what is wrong with him. Instead, we ask him: “what happened to you?” When equipped with that information we are best able to create a plan of treatment that can truly heal the child. In addition, we develop and use programs and services that focus on intervention and prevention. We know that preventing trauma is preferential and, failing that, we know that intervening early-on in the process is highly beneficial.
Finally, it is important to note that our Clinic is named for its founder, Clifford Whittingham Beers, who, because of his own struggles with mental health, pioneered the American mental health movement and created the first outpatient mental health clinic in the United States 100 years ago: the Clifford Beers Clinic. Beers was a groundbreaker, and today we follow in his innovative footsteps by crafting the concept of “wellness.” With wellness, we seek to equip children and their families with the building blocks required to achieve health and wellness in communities that experience health disparities. We welcome support from all manner of individuals and organizations interested in reaching this goal with us. Long-term, our concept of wellness will lead to a Wellness Center – an inviting structure where we can deliver the highest quality care with a holistic approach.
As stated, the Clifford Beers Clinic is committed to ensuring that every child is given a chance to live a healthy, successful life supported by a strong community. We have every intention of honoring our commitment.
Alice M. Forrester, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
Clifford Beers Clinic