Friday Update

CMHNetwork Friday Update 1-21-23

January 21, 2023

Greetings, Network faithful. Many thanks to Network Faithful Delfy and the Smooth Tones for introducing me to a music legend, Little Jimmy Scott. I know you will enjoy his inspiring rendition of “Holding Back the Years.” Get your mellow jazz groove on and enjoy the voice of a music icon who was instrumental in shaping the artistry of Lou Reed, Van Morrison, John Legend, and so many more! Enjoy the tune and then get to readin’ Friday Update, cuz we got work to do!

Most Important Reads of the Week

Connecting to Care
Three cheers for you, Connecticut! I love how Connecticut’s Connecting to Care initiative is presenting itself on the web, showcasing efforts to build a system of care designed to meet the behavioral health care needs of children in the state. If you live in Connecticut, visit this site to find a way to get involved in the collective effort to improve services and supports for children with behavioral healthcare needs. If you don’t live in Connecticut? Visit the site anyway and get ideas for how you might approach building a system of care in your state.

Teen Brains Aged Faster Than Normal From Pandemic Stress, Study Says
The stress of pandemic lockdowns prematurely aged the brains of teenagers by at least three years and in ways similar to changes observed in children who have faced chronic stress and adversity, a study has found. The study, published in Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science, was the first to compare scans of the physical structures of teenagers’ brains from before and after the pandemic started, and to document significant differences.

HHS Awards More Than $130 Million in 988 Lifeline Grants From the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to Address Nation’s Ongoing Mental Health and Substance Use Crises
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will award more than $130 million in 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline grants – part of the $800 million provided to SAMHSA under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to address the nation’s ongoing mental health and substance use crises. HHS, through SAMHSA, awarded $47 million to states and U.S. territories to expand and enhance 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline services. SAMHSA will also award $21.1 million in 988 Lifeline Tribal Response Grants and technical assistance to improve 988 response in tribal communities, which face unique challenges to accessing technology and crisis services. In addition, SAMHSA plans to award additional funds to further improve 988 responses in tribal communities early next year.

Three Tips to Improve Communication with Youth & Young Adults
So much information is available to help you work with youth and young adults! This tip sheet was developed as a collaboration between the Family Advisory Board and Young Adult Advisory Board, which work with the Transitions to Adulthood Center for Research. Learn more about the Transitions to Adulthood Center for Research.

Anti-Discrimination Policies Reduce Binge Drinking for LGBTQ Youth
A recent article published in the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology examines the association between sexual identity and binge drinking among LGBTQ youth. The researchers found lower odds of binge drinking among sexual minority youth in states with more LGBTQ-affirming policies. Previous studies have shown that LGBTQ youths are at higher risk for suicide and other mental health concerns due to minority stress. In addition, the experience of discrimination and stigma can lead to more significant psychological distress, and alcohol use can be a common coping mechanism among marginalized teens.

Advocates Urge Educators to Heed Bereft Children’s Cry for Help by Changing School Culture
The COVID-19 pandemic and America’s continuing struggle with gun violence have shined a long-overdue spotlight on the impact of grief on children. Child advocates hope this heightened awareness will spark a culture shift in American schools so that grief training and counseling will become as commonplace as active-shooter drills and recreational sports.

How Does Anxiety Affect Kids in School?
Sometimes anxiety is easy to identify — like when a child feels nervous before a school test. Other times anxiety in the classroom can look like something else entirely — an upset stomach, disruptive or angry behavior, ADHD, or even a learning disorder. There are many different kinds of anxiety, which is one of the reasons it can be hard to detect in the classroom. What they all have in common, says neurologist and former teacher Ken Schuster, PsyD, is that anxiety “tends to lock up the brain,” making school hard for anxious kids.

Critical Competencies in Children’s Environmental Health
Competency in children’s environmental health allows for the development of interventions to prevent the long-term and irreversible health outcomes resulting from early environmental toxic exposures. Health effects thought to be at least partially influenced by early exposures include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), lower IQ, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Despite the value of children’s environmental health, there are still gaps in workforce training for those interested in children’s environmental health.

State Telemedicine Coverage Requirements Continue to Evolve
During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states took measures to encourage greater use of telemedicine. Most took administrative action to respond quickly, but these efforts were temporary. Initial responses were often broad: requiring or allowing coverage of audio-only (i.e., telephone) services, waiving or limiting cost sharing, and requiring reimbursement parity between telemedicine and in-person services.

HHS Considers Updating the Essential Health Benefits
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded the number of people covered by health insurance and the comprehensiveness of coverage, particularly for people insured as individuals or through small employers. When designing the law, Congress included an essential health benefits (EHB) requirement to ensure plans covered a standard set of benefits. At the end of 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a request for information (RFI) asking for public comments on updating the EHB requirements. The RFI specifically asks for comments regarding barriers to mental health and substance use disorder services and telehealth, as well as the effects of utilization controls on cost and access. Comments are due by the end of January. Download the RFI here.

For Young People Looking for Help
Mental health problems don’t only affect adults. Children, teens, and young adults can have mental health problems, too. Three out of four people with mental health problems showed signs before they were 24 years old. If you’re thinking about harming yourself, get help immediately. You can call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

LGBTQ Inclusivity in Schools: A Self-Assessment Tool
This self-assessment tool was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NORC at the University of Chicago, an objective, non-partisan research institution, in partnership with LGBTQ health experts, school health experts, and non-governmental health and education agencies. To assist schools and districts in addressing the health and academic needs of LGBTQ students, this self-assessment tool was created to help school and district staff understand current policies, programs, and practices that may contribute to safe, inclusive environments where all youth can be successful.

Growing Healthy Bodies and Minds with Sesame Street
Sesame Street in Communities’ Director of Content Design, Kama Einhorn, joins Medical Editor Dr. Jennifer Shu to talk about the many creative ways Sesame Street is helping families stay healthy – both in mind and in body. And meet Lily! A new friend on Sesame Street whose own journey to stay healthy helps kids better understand tough topics like food insecurity. Friday, January 27, 2023, at 12:00 pm EST.

Faculty Guide to Supporting Student Mental Health
The JED Foundation created this easy-to-use guide to provide educators with simple, evidence-based ways for teachers to support students. A recent survey found that nearly 80% of higher education faculty reported having dealt with student mental health issues over the previous 12 months. Most faculty are not clinicians, and it can feel intimidating or overwhelming to think about supporting students’ emotional health, especially given all of a teacher’s responsibilities. But teachers do not have to be mental health professionals to impact their student’s emotional well-being positively. This guide shows teachers how to pay attention, listen, and connect with students to help if—or when—they need it.

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About the Author

Scott Bryant-Comstock

Hello, I’m Scott Bryant-Comstock, CEO and founder of the Children’s Mental Health Network. For the past 40 years, my journey as a mental health advocate has traveled from volunteering at a suicide and crisis center, professional roles as a therapist in an outpatient clinic, in-home family therapist, state mental health official, Board Chair for a county mental health program, and national reviewer of children’s mental health systems reform efforts. As the founder of the Children’s Mental Health Network, I lead the Network’s efforts to grow a national online forum to exchange ideas on how to improve children’s mental health research, policy, and practice.

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