Friday Update

CMHNetwork Friday Update 2-5-21

February 04, 2021

Greetings, Network faithful. I’m thinkin’ of my old buddy, Burt Blau, who is now one with the universe. Gonna miss seeing him at the Tampa conference. You can read my remembrance of him below. But for now, enjoy a wonderful song from Coldplay, called A Sky Full of Stars. Burt would have gotten a kick out of this selection. In fact, I’ll bet his spirit is chuckling right now! Enjoy the tune, hold someone you love close and tight (if in your bubble), or hold them close and tight in your mind (if out of your bubble). Your heart, and your soul, will be better for it. And then, get to readin’ Friday Update, cuz we got work to do!

Most Important Reads of the Week

Systems of Care Loses One of Its Biggest Fans – Burt Blau
Burt Blau, the father of Gary Blau, former Branch Chief of the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch at SAMHSA, passed away last week. Burt was a mainstay at the Tampa Conference, and I know many of you had the wonderful opportunity to meet and interact with Burt. But even if you didn’t, I encourage you to take a moment to read my Morning Zen post about Burt and the love of a father for a son, which touched me so deeply.

Achieving Racial Equity in Massachusetts: The Dynamic Duo Is on a Mission!
In this episode of the Optimistic Advocate podcast, we unveil the magic of this dynamic duo of Audrey Smolkin and Thula Sibanda, as they embark on an incredible mission to provide racial equity training to providers, families, community leaders throughout the entire state of Massachusetts.

What Should the Next Assistant Secretary for SAMSHA Be and Do to Heal America Psyche?
The next Assistant Secretary of SAMSHA must be a potent, scientifically informed servant leader who does more than authorize funding. She, or he, must inspire the SAMSHA staff, the states’ leadership in mental health, and allied entities and advocates—throughout the country—to mobilize rapid improvement of positive indicators of mental and physical health among our children, families, schools, and communities for our nation to recover. The science exists to do so, and it is cheap and scalable.

So Ya Wanna Be a Podcaster, Do Ya? We Are Podcast Conference, February 18 – 19
The conference organizers are giving a special bonus for CMHNetwork faithful of 20% off ANY ticket option using promo code Kundalini.

I hope you are enjoying the two podcasts I host – The Optimistic Advocate and The Kundalini Chronicles. And I’ll bet you are thinking, “Dang, I would like to host a podcast!” Well, if that’s the case, I want to encourage you to attend the upcoming “We Are Podcast” conference, February 18 – 19. The We Are Podcast conference I attended last year helped me jump start not one but two podcasts! I’ll be attending this fantastic virtual event, so be sure to message me in the chat. Heck, we will likely be in the same workshops, so it will be kind of like the good old days pre-COVID when we would all be together in Tampa for the annual research conference. Except, at the conference, the focus will be solely on helping you create a podcast that is both personally fulfilling and financially rewarding. The conference organizers are giving a special bonus for CMHNetwork faithful of 20% off ANY ticket option using promo code KUNDALINI. We need more voices in more places talking about mental health advocacy. I hope to see you at the conference!

Are You a Young Adult in Recovery? Join a Community Board to Use Your Experience to Make an Impact
Are you interested in improving services and support for people experiencing substance misuse issues and using your lived experience as a person in recovery to influence research in this area? We are seeking youth & young adults (age 16-25) with lived experience in recovery from substance misuse issues to join a Community Board. The application deadline is February 15th!

Dennis Embry Recognized as Top 100 Champion for Children by the Child Welfare League of America
We are most proud of our Science Advisor, Dr. Dennis Embry, for being recognized by the Child Welfare League of America as one of the 100 Champions for Children. As part of CWLA’s 100th-anniversary celebration, they chose to recognize the exceptional commitment of individuals, organizations, and corporations who serve as champions for children and those who work on their behalf. Dennis Embry has devoted a lifetime of service on behalf of young children and their families. This is an honor well deserved! Congratulations, Dennis. Keep on being the fierce advocate for prevention and early intervention innovations that have you have championed throughout your career!

Girls, Homelessness, and COVID-19
Equitable access to adequate housing has increasingly been recognized as a matter of life and death during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, there has been limited gendered analysis of how COVID-19 has shaped girls’ access to housing. In this article, the authors analyze how the socio-economic exclusion of homeless girls is likely to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

Promoting a Healthy Weight from Birth: Strategies to Improve Early Childhood Feeding Practices and Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Obesity
Important Issue Brief from the Child, Health, and Development Institute of Connecticut (CHDI)

Childhood obesity is a significant public health challenge disproportionately impacting children of color and children from low-income families. To address this, Connecticut has identified improving children’s healthy weight as a priority for the state’s Health Enhancement Communities (HEC) initiative. As the HEC initiative gets underway, it is opportune to examine and apply lessons learned from recent childhood obesity prevention projects. This Issue Brief summarizes findings from four projects in Connecticut focused on improving early feeding practices and reducing obesity disparities. It provides recommendations that can inform the HECs and other child health initiatives. The four projects were funded by the Children’s Fund of Connecticut, the Connecticut Health Foundation, and Newman’s Own Foundation and administered by CHDI.

Young Adults Aging Out of Foster Care Face Unique Challenges During COVID-19
In a recent Field Center study of 18-23 year-olds who are currently in or recently aged out of foster care, 43% either were forced to leave their current housing situation or experienced homelessness or housing instability during the pandemic. On top of that, 55% of these young people reported they were food insecure during the COVID-19 crisis. Geori Berman, statewide director of youth advocacy organization, Florida Youth SHINE, said what would be a speed bump for so many people is a complete roadblock to foster youth.

U.S. Immigration Enforcement Policy and Its Impact on Teaching and Learning in the Nation’s Schools
This working paper presents findings from a national survey of educators from more than 730 schools across 24 districts and 12 states who responded to questions probing the Impact of Immigration Enforcement on Teaching and Learning in the Nation’s Schools.

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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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