Friday Update

CMHNetwork Friday Update 2/26/21

February 26, 2021

Greetings, faithful readers. I know the news of the day is unrelenting, but you owe yourself some sunshine. And if no one is readily giving it to you, look no further than Friday Update, cuz we got plenty of sunshine for you. Get your chakras aligned by taking 3 minutes and 48 seconds (not a second longer, I promise) and watch Katrina and the Waves perform their lively tune – Walking on Sunshine. C’mon, you know you want to! Enjoy the sunshine and then get to readin’ Friday Update, cuz we got work to do!

Most Important Reads of the Week

Honoring the Passing of Long-time Family Advocate, Stephany Bryan
Stephany Bryan, a family advocate who was a strong presence in the early days of the family movement, has passed on after a courageous battle with COVID-19. For the past 15 years, Stephany played a crucial role in bringing family voice to the Hogg Foundation in Austin, Texas. I hope you will take a moment to breathe in the cool breeze of the universe, which now has another spirit to join in the chorus of oneness. We are all one, folks. Celebrate those who came before and those who walk with you, side by side. Smooth sailing, Stephany!

Pediatric Priorities: Improving Children’s Health in the COVID-19 Era
March 3rd Webinar Focuses on Children’s Mental Health!
Pediatric Priorities: Improving Children’s Health in the COVID-19 Era is a virtual event series from U.S. News & World Report, developed with support from Texas Children’s Hospital. Hear from leading experts on urgent issues in pediatric health and what children’s hospital executives, pediatric providers, and key community stakeholders can do to improve America’s young people’s well-being. We are most excited to promote the upcoming webinar on March 3rd – Managing Children’s Mental Health: A Pediatric Hospital Imperative, which will take place on March 3rd, 1:00 – 2:15 p.m. ET. Learn more about the next session and register for the series.

Migrant Families Seek Mental Health Help for Trauma
More than 3,000 children were taken from their parents under Trump administration policies and put in government shelters or foster homes before the policy was largely curtailed under pressure in 2018. Doctors say that the trauma resulting from family separations and detentions ultimately can lead to long-term psychological effects, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. 55 Baltimore-area families, and some 578 across the country, are receiving free, confidential mental health services, after a federal judge held the government legally accountable for mental trauma brought on by the separation policy. The Physicians for Human Rights report went so far as to assert that family separation “rises to the level of torture.” Recently, the Biden administration officially rescinded the family separation policy and later announced a task force to reunite families. According to the ACLU, the parents of 611 children haven’t been found.

Melanie Funchess – A Personal Journey Through Advocacy
Our guest for this Optimistic Advocate podcast episode is Melanie Funchess, out of Rochester, New York. Melanie is an advocates advocate. She directs community engagement for the Mental Health Association in Rochester. A large part of her work is to make connections with diverse communities, bringing them together, strengthening the fabric of services and supports that are provided to the good people of Rochester. Now that’s pretty impressive in and of itself, but her history as an advocate goes back to childhood. And today we’re going to learn about that history. We’re going to take a deep dive into who Melanie Funchess is, how she got into this work, and what motivates her to do the advocacy work she does. 

Long-Haul Symptoms Should Be a ‘Wake-up Call’ for Young People When It Comes to Avoiding COVID
About 10 to 30% of all COVID-19 patients will suffer from long-haul symptoms, according to the latest research from Mt. Sinai’s Center for Post-Covid Care. Those numbers should be a “wake-up call” for young people and motivate them to avoid infection.

School-Based Health Care Awareness Month
February is National School-Based Healthcare Awareness Month. The School-Based Health Alliance (promoted by youth.gov) provided a list of curated national awareness month resources. The webpage includes a list of national resources explaining how school-based health centers provide services to disadvantaged youth who experience healthcare disparities (including behavioral healthcare). They also have guides to promote the model among legislators and within your community.

USDA Invests $42 Million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine Infrastructure to Improve Education and Health Outcomes
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is investing $42.3 million to help rural residents gain access to health care and educational opportunities (PDF). Rural areas are seeing higher infection and death rates related to COVID-19 due to several factors, including a much higher percentage of underlying conditions, difficulty accessing medical care, and lack of health insurance. The $42.3 million in awards includes $24 million provided through the CARES Act. In total, these investments will benefit 5 million rural residents. In Georgia, the Morehouse School of Medicine Inc. will use a $997,194 grant to purchase interactive telecommunications, distance learning, and telemedicine equipment. Equipment will be installed in service hubs in two counties in west-central Georgia. It will provide a variety of health care services to residents in underserved rural areas of nine counties across the state. These services include mental health and substance abuse treatment and counseling; clinical services; referrals for specialty care; health education and career development to schools; and chronic disease diagnosis, treatment, and management, including COVID-19.

The United States Is Falling Behind in Bilingual Education, Why Does It Matter?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Latinx students comprise the largest minority demographic in the nation’s schools, accounting for 22 percent of students as of 2016. Sadly, only 9 percent of the teacher workforce is of Hispanic origin in comparison. Although the population of Latinx students continues to grow in the United States, “schools still don’t represent the demographical figures of a country where over half of its student population is non-white.

More US Schools Teach in English and Spanish, but Not Enough to Help Latino Kids
Bilingual education — the practice of teaching non-English-speaking children in their native language while they learn English — helps Latino students advance. Still, many districts have fought to keep foreign languages out of schools. Classes taught in both languages help students from various backgrounds, but many districts have fought to keep Spanish out of schools. Roughly 3.8 million students in U.S. schools are native Spanish-speakers who are not proficient in English. They make up the bulk of the approximately 5 million students nationwide identified as English language learners, the fastest-growing demographic in schools – and the lowest-performing, as judged by achievement tests and graduation rates.

New WHO Expert Group to Identify Gaps and Solutions to the Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19
Mental health conditions, one of the leading causes of suffering and disability in the European Region, have burgeoned during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone’s mental health has been affected in some way, whether as a result of the worry about becoming infected or the stress brought about by measures such as lockdown, self-isolation, and quarantine, or linked with foregone employment, income, education, or social participation. Over the coming months, the Technical Advisory Group will review and synthesize available evidence from the population level, the policy and service level, and the individual level, and highlight emergent needs and implications for the development of mental health services in the WHO European Region. The Group’s recommendations will feed into a mental health framework for action, which is to be presented to the WHO Regional Committee for Europe – WHO’s decision-making body in the Region – in September 2021.

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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 (2009), 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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