New online tool advances programs that foster children’s health, resilience and academic success

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A new online resource from the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (CHHCS) will help school administrators, program directors, civic leaders, and others sustain programs that prepare children for academic success while promoting their social, emotional, and physical health.

CHHCS developed the new tool, “Partner Build Grow: An Action Guide for Sustaining Child Development and Prevention Approaches,” with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

“This Action Guide is a go-to resource for advocates and leaders who often find themselves struggling to maintain good programs that are helping young people not only learn but thrive,” said Olga Acosta Price, director of CHHCS, a nonpartisan policy, resource and technical assistance center based at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University. “Our hope is that the best practices, strategies, and success stories shared here will help strengthen and sustain programs that give children the skills they need to succeed, both in school and throughout their lives.”

Although many local communities, agencies, and school districts have a variety of stand-alone programs to support youth development, often these efforts are disconnected, underutilized, and financially vulnerable. The Action Guide fills these gaps by combining best-practice knowledge with practical steps needed to secure funding and build crucial support for effective programs.

Topics addressed in the Action Guide include:

  • Mobilizing key allies
  • Taking inventory and identifying existing resources
  • Constructing a clear problem statement and developing a call to action
  • Organizing community stakeholders
  • Assessing viable financing and regulatory approaches
  • Developing a communications strategy

The Action Guide lays out a four-pronged strategic blueprint that stakeholders can use or adapt to the unique circumstances of their communities:

  • Network and build relationships with decision-makers at local and state levels
  • Identify and stay on top of key federal and state policies that affect programs
  • Build upon existing resources or assets
  • Spread the word and build public support for school-connected programs

“For effective programs to survive, it’s not enough to show positive results by increasing resilience, social and emotional skills, and academic performance,” says Price.  “You need to be strategic and plan for the long-term viability of programs from their initiation. Following the steps in this Action Guide will help leaders ensure the future of investments that put young people on the road to better, more successful, and healthier lives.”

Stepping Up: Strengthening Police, Youth & Community Relationships

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Dear Reader:

stepping upWe are a group of teens who came together to study police-youth relations and early diversion options for 16—24 year-olds in New York City. We all had different reasons for joining the Youth Justice Board, but our goal is the same: to improve diversion programs and restore youth and community trust in police and the criminal justice system.

We come from many places, but we are all passionate about working for justice. We want to help expand diversion programs and improve short- and long-term outcomes for youth who are involved in the criminal justice system.

This issue is important to us because the quality of police-youth interactions affects us, our peers, and our families. Especially in the wake of recent deaths in Ferguson and Staten Island, it is important that youth and police begin working together to make sure that we support each other to succeed.

We met twice a week over many months to research this issue. We visited courts, conducted interviews with policymakers, judges, lawyers, police officers, and social workers, and held focus groups with young people who have experience with arrest and diversion programs. We then developed seven recommendations that we believe can improve the lives of young people, the police, and New York City communities.

As a group of determined teens, we hope that people take our recommendations into consideration and that they will be used in order to reduce youth arrest, improve public trust in police, and make communities safer for us all.



'No Letting Go' set to premier at the 11th Annual NYC Mental Health Film Festival

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Faithful readers will remember our request back in May for some serious Network love for Randi Silverman's film, No Letting Go. Well, Network faithful, we now have exciting news to share.

The film Randi has put her heart and soul into is going to premier in September at the 11th Annual NYC Mental Health Film Festival! No Letting Go  has been chosen as the featured full-length narrative film and will screen at 1:30 on Saturday, September 26, 2015. If you are in New York City on September 26th, we hope you will attend (let's sell out the house!).

No Letting Go is a feature film that follows the journey of an American family faced with the daunting challenge of finding answers and help for their middle child, who is eventually diagnosed with a bipolar disorder. Co-Written by Randi Silverman and Jonathan Bucari. Starring: Cheryl Allison, Richard Burgi (Desperate Housewives), Noah Silverman, and featuring Alysia Reiner (Orange is the New Black), Kathy Najimy (Sister Act), and Janet Hubert (Fresh Prince of Bel Air). Filmmakers and cast members will be in attendance for audience Q&A.

About the 11th Annual NYC Mental Health Film Festival
As the oldest and largest mental health film festival in the United States, #MHFF takes a bold stand in fighting the stigma people with mental illness often face. The festival has screened more than 50 films, attracted over 5,000 audience members, and served as a positive voice promoting social justice and human rights for people with mental health concerns. 


  • Saturday, September 26, 2015
  • Morning Shorts:  11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Afternoon Features with Q&As:  1:30 to 5:30 p.m.


  • Village East Cinema
    181-189 2nd Avenue & 12th Street


  • $25 to $60 (A limited number of $100 VIP passes are available, and include a private reception with cast and producers of No Letting Go & Cracking Up


Ravages of Heroin addiction haunt friends, families and whole towns

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Marion, Ohio, just north of Columbus, used to be an idyllic place to grow up.

Kelly Clixby and Beth Carey remember what it was like a generation ago, when they were young.

‘I lived across the street from one of the big parks here,’ Clixby says. ‘We would rip n' run all day and all night and come in when the street lights were on.’

‘It was just a nice place to live,’ Carey says.

Today, Marion is different. It's grappling with a full-blown heroin epidemic, one that derailed Kelly Clixby's life and killed Beth Carey's twin sister.

This week on For The Record: one small town copes with the ravages of addiction.

Starting August 26: SAMHSA National Advisory Council meetings

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CMHS National Advisory Council Meeting

  • Wednesday, August 26, 2015 | 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Eastern Time

    Discussions will include the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) Director's report, a budget update, an overview of promotion of evidence-based practices and zero suicide, a presentation on SAMHSA's role in public health crises response, and a presentation related to disparities and making connections. The closed meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. The open meeting will be held from 10:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Register Online

CSAP National Advisory Council Meeting

  • Wednesday, August 26, 2015 | 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Eastern Time

    Discussions will include aligning substance abuse prevention with overall health care, as well as SAMHSA/Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) updates. 
  • Register Online


CSAT National Advisory Council Meeting

  • Wednesday, August 26, 2015 | 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Eastern Time

    Discussions will include the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) Director's report, a budget update, lessons learned from recent public health crises, and a presentation on the Science of Recovery. The open meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The closed meeting will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Register Online


Advisory Committee for Women's Services Meeting

  • Wednesday, August 26, 2015 | 1 p.m.–4:15 p.m. Eastern Time

    Discussions will include behavioral health for pregnant and postpartum women and their families, and pathways for addressing behavioral health disparities experienced by women and girls. 
  • Register Online


Tribal Technical Advisory Committee Meeting

  • Wednesday, August 26, 2015 | 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Eastern Time

    Discussions will include updates on Tribal Technical Advisory Committee priorities, evaluation of evidence-based practices and practice-based evidence, and public health crises response in Indian country.
  • Register Online


Joint Meeting of SAMHSA National Advisory Councils

  • Thursday, August 27, 2015 | 8:30 a.m.–4:15 p.m. Eastern Time

    Discussions will include SAMHSA's role in public health crises response; practice-based evidence: National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) update and implications for SAMHSA; maximizing NREPP as a tool for quality and effectiveness for all populations; and the establishment of the Office of Chief Medical Officer.
  • Register Online


SAMHSA National Advisory Council Meeting

  • Friday, August 28, 2015 | 8:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m. Eastern Time

    Discussions will include a recap of the Joint National Advisory Council meeting; a presentation on SAMHSA's disparities impact strategy from design to implementation; a presentation by the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, Office of the Secretary, HHS on HHS behavioral health equity initiatives and partnerships; and a general council discussion.
  • Register Online

Learn More About the SAMHSA Advisory Councils

When the school bell tolls too early

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A chill is in the morning air, “back to school” ads are everywhere, and summer activities are winding down. It can mean only one thing—it's nearly time for students to surrender the sweet freedom of summertime for the structured schedules of the school year. Children are bemoaning the return of early morning alarms and evening homework burdens, but these things should not be allowed to encroach upon their critical nightly slumber.

The Centers for Disease Control says sleep deprivation is a public health epidemic, particularly among children and adolescents. The consequences of sleep deprivation are well documented, including poor academic functioning, as well as increased risk for mental and physical health problems and motor vehicle accidents. As a sleep specialist, I know how important a good night's sleep is. And as a mother of two, including a son who will be entering Treasure Mountain Junior High, where school starts at 7:30 a.m., I am also aware of the sleep-defying stresses school schedules can bring. Here are some strategies to help your family get “sleep-ready” for the school year.

Start Adjusting Your Child's Sleep Schedule Now
Abruptly shifting your child's sleep schedule the night before school starts is a bit like trying to instantaneously overcome jetlag. As summer winds down, start gradually encouraging (forcing) your child to wake up within an hour or two of their required wake-up time during the school year. Each week, make the wake-up time closer and closer to the actual wake-up time for the first day of school. At the same time, start curtailing evening activities to make it easier for your child to adjust.

Remove Technology from Your Child's Bedroom
Technology can disrupt sleep with stimulating content and interruptions from incoming texts or alerts. The light emitted from phones, tablets and other devices can directly suppress the hormone, melatonin, which signals the onset of sleep. This can be particularly harmful for teenagers, given that their internal biological clocks are already programmed to stay up later and wake up later. Maintain a central place outside of the bedrooms where the family charges their devices overnight. Your kids are watching you—so be a good role model.

Cut Out Caffeine
Studies have shown that nearly one out of five eighth graders and one out of three high school students regularly use highly caffeinated energy drinks. Energy drinks have been linked to a host of consequences, including increased risk for alcohol and drug use and emergency room visits. And they can lead to a vicious cycle of energy drink consumption, leading to sleep disturbance, which leads to further energy drink consumption, and so forth.

The truth is there is only so much parents can do to ensure their children get adequate opportunity for sleep, particularly when junior high and high school start times are in direct conflict with teens' biological clocks. There is robust evidence that early school start times result in chronically sleep-deprived students. Changing to later start times certainly presents challenges, but over the past 15 years, an increasing number of school districts have responded to the evidence put forth by sleep scientists and pediatricians and have made the choice to overcome these hurdles to start the school day a little later.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently stated that it “strongly supports the efforts of school districts to optimize sleep in students and urges high schools and middle schools to aim for start times that allow students the opportunity to achieve optimal levels of sleep (8.5-9.5 hours) and to improve physical (e.g., reduced obesity risk) and mental (e.g., lower rates of depression) health, safety (e.g., drowsy driving crashes), academic performance, and quality of life.” It may be too late to make the change this year, but it is not too late to mobilize efforts to delay junior high and high school start times for next year.

Author: Wendy Troxel. Wendy Troxel is a behavioral and social scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and a certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist.

This commentary originally appeared in The Park Record on August 7, 2015.

Dissertation survey focuses on how colleges can better meet the needs of young people with mental illness

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Network faithful Laura Murray is conducting a much-needed doctoral dissertation study on the experiences of college students with mental illness and how effective the institutions they attend are at supporting them. Read the message from Laura below, review the criteria for participation, and if it fits for you, help advance the knowledge!

  • To Children's Mental Health Network readers:

    As a scholar, mental health advocate, and someone living with depression, I'm a huge fan of the Children's Mental Health Network. I am completing a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, and my dissertation study is about the experiences of college students with mental illness. I believe it's time to learn from young people themselves how educational institutions can better meet their needs.

    Anyone who is a current college student and identifies as having a mood, anxiety, or psychotic disorder is eligible to participate in this survey. And respondents can enter a raffle to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Again, the survey is *entirely anonymous.* If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to contact:

    Laura C. Murray
    twitter: @CollegeInMind
  • P.S. - Feel free to check out my youth mental health-related Education Week Commentaries here and here.

College in Mind: How young adults with mental illness prepare for and transition to college
General Information about this study:

Thank you for your interest in our survey!  The survey is part of a study about young adults, ages 18-25, who have a serious mental illness and who are college students.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 25; you have a mood, anxiety, or psychotic disorder; your mental health challenges began before college entrance, and you will be enrolled as a part-time or full-time college student in the United States in Fall, 2015, you are welcome to complete the survey.  We'd love to learn about your experiences planning for and transitioning into college.

How long will this survey take to complete?
This survey has several different sections and will ask you about your general background, your mental health history, your experiences in high school, your choices related to whether to tell people at school about your mental illness, and your experiences in college related to having a mental illness.  The survey is entirely anonymous and confidential. It should take between 35 and 45 minutes to complete all of the sections.

If you would like to take a break and come back to complete the survey later, you can. Your answers will be automatically saved and stored for up to one week.  Just return to the survey on the same internet browser and computer that you started on.

This survey is entirely anonymous and your identity will be protected.

Financial Information
Your participation in this survey will involve no cost to you.  At the end of the survey, and as a thank you for your time, you can opt to be entered into a raffle to win one of three $100 Amazon gift cards. You would provide an email address, and in January 2016, after the survey closes, three winners will be drawn from the list of emails. I will contact the winners and make sure that you receive your prizes.

Contact Persons
If you have any questions about this study please contact Laura Murray at phone (310) 463-9692 or email:

If you have any questions about your rights as a research participant, you may call the Office of Regulatory Affairs, Institutional Review Board at University of Pennsylvania: (215) 898-2614.

Free brain-based leadership school

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leadership classHey Network faithful, Laurie Ellington and Paul McFadden are at their neurolinguistic best and are offering another great opportunity to improve your leadership through neuroscience. They have just launched a FREE Brain-Based Leadership School, which consists of 4 short (about 15-30 minutes) classes introducing folks to the neuroscience of leadership.

six stepsRegister and Complete all (4) FREE 30-min Training Sessions in this course and you will also receive a COMPLIMENTARY copy of their new eBook - Absolutely FREE!! (value $29.95) This content rich eBook will teach you how to practically apply their 6-Step Neuroscience-Based Framework for creating High Performance Leadership!

Okay, get on it and sign up!

Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut looking for a new President & CEO

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The Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut (CGC), a 501(c)3 nonprofit headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, was founded in 1954 to provide previously unavailable mental health services to children and adolescents from the greater Stamford community (Stamford, Darien, Greenwich and New Canaan).  CGC has expanded to four offices with a permanent and contracted staff of nearly 70 and an annual operating budget of approximately $5 million. While the reach and diversity of its programs have grown, CGC has remained committed to the guiding principles of its founders to ensure that 1) all children and adolescents in the community have access to state-of-the-art mental health services to decrease the risk that emotional and behavioral problems will limit their future prospects and 2) these services will be available to children and families regardless of their financial capacity and ability to pay. CGC is recognized in both the region and the state as a center of excellence for children’s mental health.

CGC is governed by a 26-member board of directors which is strongly committed to the organization’s mission and values and actively engaged in fundraising. The organization’s budget is supported by a combination of grants, fees, institutional giving and individual donors. The largest grant is from the State of Connecticut (DCF). Other significant sources include Medicaid and the CT State Office of Victim Services under a federal grant for victims of crime. 

CGC has been led for 29 years by its highly-regarded President and CEO who plans to retire at the end of 2015.  In planning for the current leadership transition, the board engaged Third Sector New England’s Executive Transitions Program to facilitate the transition process. The organization’s core strengths and opportunities identified through this process will inform its next leader towards the goal of increasing CGC’s impact in the communities it serves.

This executive search is being conducted by Third Sector New England’s Executive Transitions Program with Transition Consultant Michael Negrón. All submissions are confidential. Only online applications will be accepted.

University of South Florida launches children's mental health financing course

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Interested in learning more about the financing of children’s mental health services?  

Check out this course being offered by the University of South Florida’s Department of Child & Family Studies and taught by Suzanne Fields, Senior Advisor for Health Care Policy at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work. The course, Financing of Children’s Mental Health Services (MHS 6097), will further students’ critical thinking about financing strategies and structures that support effective systems of care.

Those interested in the course, but who are not yet in the USF Master of Science in Child & Adolescent Behavior Health program, can sign up to take it as a Non-degree seeking student.

Still on the fence? Watch this video where Professor Fields gives an introduction to the course.

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