In addition to earning her PhD in clinical psychology from the Catholic University of America, Melissa N. Smith supports a number of non-profit organizations that focus on children and foster care. As a member of the Foster Care Alumni of America, Dr. Melissa Smith helps the organization in its effort to provide support to the large number of children in the foster care system, including housing, education, and mental health counseling.
With over 500,000 young people in some sort of foster care, mental health professionals need to realize that the challenges these children face are vastly different than those of children living in a home with their biological parents. Besides an overwhelming sense of abandonment, foster care children suffer through issues of feeling unwanted by everyone, guilt for being removed from their birth parents, and lack of self-confidence. Mental health professionals realize that over 30 percent of children in foster care are diagnosed with some sort of behavioral or emotional problem. But with a combination of support from counselors and foster care parents, these young people can overcome their complex and unique mental health issues.