After months of more bad raps than good results, The Mill is getting a facelift reworking its teaching and approach with the treatment facility's 32 residents aged 12 to 18.
"I attribute the change in my mind in this field like surgery. It's invasive and you have to go through some trauma but at the same time you're healing, you're getting better," The Mill's interim president Todd Scott said.
Leading the new curriculum charge is psychiatrist Dr. Ron Davidson, who says while The Mill has dedicated staff, in recent years they weren't communicating their care well enough, especially those suffering from emotional trauma.
"You've got to have a system in place that can engage the kid therapeutically so they bond with staff where the kid is a two-way street, not a one-way street. When that happens, you've got that, you've got a program," Davidson said.
After Wednesday's classroom session, the joint staffs will shift gears to one-on-ones with each of The Mill's residents. The training will assist The Mill's staff in interacting better with kids suffering from complex mental disorders, so the students can leave happier, and be better prepared for life outside the center's walls.
"It's important to engage, to support. It's more than three meals and a cot. If you don't have that, then we aren't doing our jobs properly," Scott said.
And though The Mill fell on hard times in 2004, both sides are confident the intense weeklong training sessions will re-energize morale and results for both the staff and its students.
"You've got staff that are eager to learn, excited about positively changing the program, and my colleagues from UIC, we do this for a living. We love doing programs that help kids. You couldn't ask for a better situation," Davidson said.