Children’s Mental Health Emergency 

In response to the call for the Governor to declare an emergency, the Newsom Administration has asked Children Now, CSAP, and other co-signors for ideas that could be implemented quickly. It appears the Administration is looking specifically at the suicide and overdose crises. At a minimum, the Administration will most likely put more resources into into a communications effort to advertise the existing resources regarding suicide prevention. Hopefully we will see new initiatives proposed as a result of this effort in the Governor’s May Revision to the State Budget. Other ideas include, but are not limited to, the following (if you have others, please email Paul Yoder.

  • Establish a children and youth behavioral health drop-in center in every county and staff with providers trained suicide prevention best practices. 
  • Expand and integrate statewide crisis services; from crisis lines to mobile crisis to crisis respite and residential facilitates. 
  • Require suicide risk screening, with a validated tool, for all youth ages 12 and older during all hospital and medical visits, including preventive visits. Require youth aged 8-11 be screened if presenting behavioral health symptoms. 
  • Require rapid referral (within 48 hours) to mental health services following a positive screen and require a safety plan be created prior to the end of the hospital stay or medical visit. 
  • Require lethal means counseling for parents and caregivers prior to the end of the hospital stay and medical visit and lockboxes to secure firearms and medications/drugs in the home. 
  • Fund a dedicated mental health provider with suicide prevention training for every welfare and justice-involved youth. 
  • Require schools include protocols in their required suicide prevention policies for the identification of students at risk, screening and triage of at-risk students and crisis response with community providers, and a method of routine follow-up with students identified. 
  • Require hospitals to enter into agreements with schools to develop plans to safely transition children and youth back into schools following services for suicidal behavior, including a suicide attempt.

New Ken Burns Documentary

In related news, we want to make you aware that Ken Burns is the executive producer of a major new public television documentary, Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness. The film, premiering in June 2022, gives voice to the experiences of young people who struggle with mental health challenges and focuses on the importance of awareness and empathy. Premieres June 27 & 28 9/8c on PBS.

The documentary will shine a clear —and sometimes stark —light on what it is like for youth as well as for the parents, teachers, friends and healthcare providers who try to help. Just as society has rallied around people with cancer and efforts for a cure, it is time to rally around children and adolescents who suffer mental health disorders —to see it as our common struggle, not somebody else’s problem.

CDC Warning Of Accelerated Mental Health Crisis Among Adolescents

As you may have seen reported by APA, the Washington Post reports the CDC “is warning of an accelerating mental health crisis among adolescents, with more than four in 10 teens reporting that they feel ‘persistently sad or hopeless,’ and one in five saying they have contemplated suicide, according to the results of a survey published” online April 1 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. According to the New York Times, the CDC’s “nationwide survey of 7,705 high school students conducted in the first half of 2021 built on earlier findings of high levels of emotional distress, with 44.2 percent describing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness that prevented them from participating in normal activities, and nine percent reporting an attempt at suicide.” What’s more, it revealed “high rates of reported abuse, with 55.1 percent of teenage respondents saying they suffered emotional abuse from a parent or another adult in their house in the preceding year, and 11.3 percent saying they suffered physical abuse.” 

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