Friday Update

CMHNetwork Friday Update 7-21-23

July 21, 2023

Greetings, faithful readers. Let’s start this issue off with the stunning ukelele prowess of Jake Shimabukuro as he plays a cover of the George Harrison classic, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Enjoy the performance and then get to readin’ Friday Update, cuz we got work to do!

Most Important Reads of the Week

The Children’s Mental Health Network is Closing Down
After meeting with the Board of the Children’s Mental Health Network, we have decided this will be our last year of operation. It has been an incredible journey, and every reader of Friday Update will always hold a special place in our hearts. Only ten issues of Friday Update left, so enjoy!

Kathryn Sabella is the New Director of The Transitions to Adulthood Center for Research
On July 1, 2023, long-time iSPARC and Transitions to Adulthood Center for Research researcher and UMass Chan Medical School faculty member Kathryn Sabella, PhD, became the new center director as Maryann Davis, PhD transitioned to emeritus status. I have had the great pleasure of knowing and working with these amazing individuals. Congratulations to Maryann for embarking on a new chapter in life and to Kathryn, who will lead the Transitions Center well!

Psychiatric Boarding Patterns Among Publicly Insured Youths Evaluated by Mobile Crisis Teams Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic
A study published in JAMA Network examined whether the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with changes in psychiatric boarding among publicly insured youths initially evaluated by a mobile crisis team. Psychiatric boarding occurs when patients needing intensive psychiatric services experience delays in admission to psychiatric facilities–typically requiring a wait in emergency departments. After reviewing over 7,600 psychiatric emergency services encounters, the study found that publicly insured youths were more likely to experience psychiatric boarding during the COVID-19 pandemic and, if boarding, were less likely to transfer to a 24-hour level of care. The study concludes that these findings suggest that psychiatric service programs for youths were not prepared to support the levels of acuity and demand that emerged from the pandemic.

Mental Health Care Lagging for LGBTQ Youth
In an analysis of more than 8,000 facilities in the U.S. that provided mental health services to youth in 2020 – most of which also provided services to adults – researchers found that 28%, or about 2,300, also offered services designed explicitly for LGBTQ individuals. That marked a minimal increase from 25% of facilities providing LGBTQ-specific services in 2014, according to the study published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Targeting Training to Just a Few Teachers Could Help Cut Racial Discipline Gap in Half
Students of color continue to be disciplined at higher rates than their white peers for the same behaviors—so much so that last month the Biden Administration warned schools that inequitable discipline practices could violate federal civil rights laws.

Mind Check: Policies to Support Youth Mental Health
Join the Bipartisan Policy Center and Commonwealth Fund on July 27th for the discussion Mind Check: Policies to Support Youth Mental Health. Since 2016, emergency department cases of youth attempted suicide and self-injury have nearly tripled. While these alarming trends cannot be blamed on any single factor, the lack of early intervention and treatment options for youth have played an outsized role. Panelists will analyze how federal policymakers can better support youth mental health and well-being.

Survey Reveals Stark Difficulty in Obtaining Appointments With Child Psychiatrists
Calls to hundreds of child psychiatrists listed as in-network with Blue Cross–Blue Shield (BCBS) in three major U.S. cities led to appointments for children just 11% of the time, according to the results of a “secret shopper” survey published in Psychiatric Services. Phone numbers were frequently wrong, many psychiatrists were no longer accepting new patients, and other calls went unanswered. Moreover, the average wait time for a visit was more than a month, and few of the psychiatrists contacted were willing to accept patients covered by Medicaid.

More Than Just a Game in Sweden: Teachers’ Experiences of the PAX Good Behavior Game
Excellent news about PAX GBG out of Sweden. We were not surprised! Keep up the good work, Dennis Embry!
The PAX Good Behavior Game (PAX-GBG) is an evidence-based universal preventive intervention program for classroom use. In this Swedish study, four themes illustrating teachers’ experiences and the perceived effects of PAX-GBG on classroom relationships were identified: (1) Working with PAX-GBG, (2) The Game, (3) Focus on Behaviour, and (4) Relationships. Based on improved student behaviors and overall enhanced relationships in the classroom, the results show that PAX-GBG is a suitable intervention for all students. Students with special needs may especially benefit due to a focus on clear expectations, positive reinforcement, and a more inclusive classroom climate. Based on the results identified in this study, PAX-GBG seems to have high social validity in a Swedish context.

APHA 2023 Annual Conference & Expo: Creating the Healthiest Nation: Overcoming Social and Ethical Challenges
APHA’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Expo is the premier public health event of the year, offering innovative and exciting opportunities to help you reach your personal and professional goals. Engage with public health experts, collaborate with other advocates, and grow professionally. Join APHA this November and work to achieve a healthier nation. The Call for Abstracts is open through July 31.

National Model Standards for Peer Support Certification
Over the course of the development of the National Model Standards for Peer Support Certification, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reviewed dozens of documents and engaged with hundreds of subject matter experts with varying types of lived experience and professional peer support expertise. The analysis and collaboration processes yielded critical information about the peer workforce and the current state of peer certification, resulting in a product that seeks to draw attention to and create parity across certification requirements. SAMHSA strongly believes that the standards and strategies outlined in this document will benefit state certification entities, the peer workforce, and the people being served.

Youth Mental Health and Safety Don’t Take a Summer Break
Just because this school year has ended doesn’t mean the crisis facing our nation’s youth is over. In fact, the data suggests the exact opposite. During the 2022-23 school year, suicide skyrocketed to the second leading cause of death among children aged 10 to 14 in the United States. Research shows some youth are more affected than others. Nearly 1 in 3 high school girls said they had considered suicide. Black students were more likely than Asian, Hispanic, or white students to attempt to take their own life. And 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ students reported having made a plan to do so.

How to Promote Mental Health Among Asian American Teens
Asian American teens face a range of psychological challenges related to cultural and societal influences, including experiencing a sense of invisibility, feeling pressured to fulfill the stereotype of the “model minority,” and navigating microaggressions and racist encounters. While best practices for treating this group are still evolving, there are many ways psychological practitioners can help them and their families navigate these issues by learning more about racial-ethnic socialization by Asian and Asian American parents, practicing cultural competence, and working with teens to develop immediate tangible goals from the therapeutic process.

How Climate Change Can Make Children Sick: What Parents Need to Know
Changes to our climate​ and weather ​patterns are, in turn, changing the kinds of infections and other diseases that make children sick. Read on to learn ways to help reduce the risk from these illnesses.

Healthy Schools Can Create More Racially Equitable Communities
Historic and ongoing inequities in people’s ability to access infrastructure—including differential access to services and supports that advance health outcomes and differential exposure to challenges that threaten well-being—reinforce disparate health and economic outcomes by race. Such inequities begin prenatally and accumulate over the course of a child’s early years and through adolescence. Schools play a critical role in either perpetuating or interrupting these inequities, as they are both a venue for children and youth to receive the supports needed for healthy development and for encountering various health risks.

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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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