UMMS Affiliation

Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center; Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


The Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative, developed at the E.K. Shriver Center of UMass Medical School, addresses the impact of a youth’s mental health challenges on typically-developing siblings and caregivers. The project is an IRB-approved research study at Cambridge Health Alliance, and the principles of the project have been implemented at three sites in Worcester that provide gradated levels of care, ranging from residential to community-based. Findings show that regardless of the severity of a child’s mental health challenges, as evidenced by the level of care the child receives, family members display a similar need for support. The three sites in Worcester are: Continuing Care Units (CCU) at Worcester Recovery Center & Hospital; the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (CANDO) at UMass Medical School; and a community collaboration between the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program (McPAP), the Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL), and the department of psychiatry at UMass Medical School. The project aims to increase resiliency and mitigate the trauma commonly experienced by siblings of youth with mental health needs; build skills, competency and confidence among parents; strengthen the family unit; and build capacity among psychiatry trainees. Interventions include psycho-educational groups for caregivers and sibling support groups for children growing up alongside the affected youth. Participants completed surveys following the intervention to report on knowledge learned, satisfaction level, and behavioral change anticipated by the participant. This innovative program utilizes parent mentors and trainees to deliver interventions, with high satisfaction scores among participants. Results suggest that a child’s mental health challenges can be traumatic for family members, and that sharing stories and being introduced to coping skills can help alleviate the stress and anxiety related to living with a child with mental health issues. The program serves as a training elective for psychiatry residents at UMMS.


mental health, children, youth, siblings, family-centered mental health, family support

Rights and Permissions

Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). This is an open access document distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI of Published Version


Journal/Book/Conference Title

25th Annual University of Massachusetts Medical School Research Retreat 2020


Poster presented virtually at the 25th Annual University of Massachusetts Medical School Research Retreat 2020 on October 26, 2020.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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