Middletown mental health expert offers helpful resources following murder of local 6-year-old

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James Hutchinson (Credit: Middletown Police Department)

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WDTN) – News of 6-year-old James Hutchison’s death on Sunday sent shockwaves through the community. After notifying police that he was missing, Hutchison’s mother, 29-year-old Brittany Gosney, admitted to killing the boy, and with the help her boyfriend James Russell Hamilton, dumping his body into the Ohio River.

Court documents reveal Gosney told police she took James to Rush Run Park in Preble County and was going to leave him there. When the boy attempted to get back in the car, she drove off at a high rate of speed, dragging him.

While police have not yet released a motive for the murder, there are resources throughout the state and the Miami Valley to prevent situations like this one from occurring in the first place.

Brandy Slavens, senior executive director of operations at Access Counseling Services in Middletown said many people do not seek help with family difficulties because they don’t realize the plethora of resources at their fingertips.

“I specifically work at Access Counseling Services here in Butler County, and we have six locations in Middletown that offer counseling services for adults, families, senior adults, children, all the way down to the itty-bitties,” she said. “If for some reason, Access isn’t a good fit for you, we are a part of bigger community of behavioral health services in Butler County and have many partner agencies that we work with to make sure that an individual can find the services that will best fit the needs of their family.”

She said the situation is typically similar in other metro areas as well, but the key is knowing where to turn for help.

“No one wants to come in and take your children,” she said. “Our goal as a community is to help support you and help wrap around you and make sure that your kiddos are safe, and that you’re safe and that you’re well.”

If your family situation is feeling strained and you don’t know where to turn, Slavens said the resources offered below are good places to begin the journey to mental and physical safety and stability.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services offers resources to children and families across the state who may be facing difficulties at home. Beyond providing adults help with finding jobs or filing unemployment, they provide parent and professional resources for keeping children safe through the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund. They also offer assistance with foster care, adoption and kinship care.

Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services offers support to families and children who can use support in areas ranging from housing assistance, to figuring out life after prison, to military and veteran support and everything in between. Specifically for those who’ve experienced living with a mental illness and/or substance use disorder, ODMHAS offers support groups and peer-run organizations to help participants remain on the right track. They also offer resources for addressing trauma in children, maintaining mental health in young children, dealing with bullying and a plethora of other programs meant to offer stability to children and adults of all ages.

Local police departments

Slavens explained, when looking for mental health or family resources, where you chose to reach out for help will determine the kind of advice and assistance you receive. She said Middletown Police and police in other municipalities and jurisdictions can act as a great resources during emergency situations and help assess a family’s needs in the moment. From there, she said officers can help find long-term or follow-up resources.

Children’s Services

States and counties often offer support to families through their children’s services departments. Similar to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, county departments such as those in Butler and Montgomery Counties offer tips and resources for positive parenting, how to recognize abuse and neglect, and how to adopt or foster children who need safe and loving homes.

Churches and faith based communities

Slavens said those facing personal struggles can look for solace within churchs or faith based-communities. Faith communities are often close-knit and can offer the perfect environment to meet like-minded people who are willing to offer encouragement or even potentially act as accountability partners.

Teachers and school systems

Under normal circumstances, teachers spend the better part of a year in a building with students between 6 and 8 hours each day. Slavens said for that reason, teachers often grow to recognize normal behaviors of their students and can sense when something is off. Teachers and school staff members have the ability the help find resources for students or families who need a bit of extra guidance or support.

Friends and neighbors

Friends and neighbors can act as a valuable resource for children or parents facing mental or physical difficulties. Slavens said friends, family members, and neighbors are often the best people to turn to because they tend to know their loved ones inside and out, making it easier for them to spot irregularities and abnormal behaviors. Friends and neighbors can also act as great accountability partners since they tend to be close by nature.

When it comes to determining when to reach out for help on behalf of a friend or community member, Slavens said the best bet is simply to pay attention to abnormal behaviors and responses to daily situations that may arise, and prevention she added, can start with friends and families checking in on their loved ones, and being the friend they would want to have.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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