To say that Becca Higgins is something of a renaissance woman might be an understatement.
Her title of Community Support Worker at Tri-County Mental Health Services covers a wide range of clients and issues. Higgins serves children with mental health issues, but to do that she often helps parents as well as young people while also working with educators, juvenile officials and other service providers in the community.
“I do a lot of things,” Higgins explained with a smile. “Our focus is on the individuals.”
Not surprisingly, that focus changes for every child and every family. “No two are alike, so what I do is very dependent on the individual family,” she said. “But we can do so many things, which is nice.”
One of Higgins’ most important efforts involves visiting children and families in their homes, where they are comfortable and can talk about parenting skills and mental health issues. She also spends a lot of time networking with other organizations and community mental health professionals to arrange for specialized care and learn what’s available in the community. “There are a lot of layers, she said. “It’s like an onion within an onion.”
Higgins earned her master’s degree in social work last year from the University of Missouri at Columbia and joined Tri-County a few months later. Yet she brought a high level of useful experience, thanks to volunteer work with college students who had experienced trauma, as well as work with a literacy program. A Kansas City native and Liberty High School graduate, she finds that dealing with children who are facing often-serious challenge is itself a challenge.
“Suicide and self-harm are very prevalent,” she noted. “My days are rarely the same because there each day there can be a crisis that changes everything. I like the challenge, but it can be exhausting at the end of the day.”
She credits Tri-County with helping her and other staff members fight burnout. “We have an awesome support team,” she said. “If I was doing this on my own or Tri-County wasn’t as trauma informed as they are, I wouldn’t be as comfortable as I am. That support is important.”