Friday Update

CMHNetwork Friday Update 9-25-20

September 25, 2020

Greetings, faithful readers. Let’s start by celebrating the extraordinary life of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, with a song from Keb Mo – Put a Woman in Charge. My bride said it best – Ruth Bader Ginsberg is now our Obi-Wan Kenobi. Be sure to honor that and gain inspiration. Okay, Network faithful, enjoy the tune, share what RBG meant to you with five friends, and then get to readin’ Friday Update, cuz, man, we gotta whole lotta work to do!

Most Important Reads of the Week

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children, Youth and Families
A brief produced by the Evidence-Based Policy Institute, Judge Baker Children’s Center
On March 10th, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a state emergency in Massachusetts. Within the next two weeks, schools and child care programs were closed, and a stay-at-home advisory was issued. In the months that followed, the need for social distancing meant youth ages 5-18 were kept at home and away from their peers, unable to attend school for in-person K-12 education. The full impact of quarantine, social isolation, and the pandemic on youth mental health remains to be seen. However, preliminary research and anecdotal observations suggest a coming tidal wave of behavioral health needs among youth, especially youth from vulnerable and historically marginalized communities.

Request for Information (RFI): Fostering Innovative Research to Improve Mental Health Outcomes Among Minority and Health Disparities Populations
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is interested in hearing from all interested parties about the next generation of innovative research priorities to improve mental health outcomes among minority and health disparities populations in the U.S. The NIMH is deeply committed to improving minority health outcomes and addressing mental health disparities through cutting-edge research. We appreciate your responses by October 30th, 2020. All comments must be submitted via email as text or as an attached electronic document. Your responses should be addressed to nimhodwd@nih.gov. Please include the Notice number (NOT-MH-20-073) in the subject line. Responses to this RFI are voluntary. The submitted information will be reviewed by NIH staff.

We Can Help Shape How Our Children Remember the Pandemic — and Foster Their Future Happiness
Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia and memory researcher, found himself wondering how his three teenagers would recall this year. He lays out how parents can help define their children’s memories of this tumultuous time — and promote their long-term happiness. “I’m not out to manipulate my kids, but knowing how memory works helps me shape what my children will recall of 2020,” he writes.

How Schools Partnering With Local Communities Can Overcome Digital Inequalities During COVID-19
Nearly 60 years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, the inability to get online is disproportionately creating unequal conditions for students from across the U.S. who will experience educational setbacks in their preparedness for the future of industries. Nicol Turner-Lee outlines specific measures communities and schools can take to bridge the digital divide facing students.

Being Healthy and Ready to Learn is Linked with Socioeconomic Conditions for Preschoolers
Families’ social, demographic, and economic circumstances can, directly and indirectly, affect children’s development. Structural inequities in access to resources such as education, income, or food can promote disparities in children’s health and school readiness. Similarly, children can face more or fewer barriers in their development, depending on their race and ethnicity. The question addressed in this brief is whether children ages 3 to 5 from families of different backgrounds differ with respect to their health and readiness to learn. The analyses presented in this brief examine the associations between various social, demographic, and economic factors and the extent to which a child is reported to be healthy and ready to learn, using data from the 2017 and 2018 waves of the Health Resources and Services Administration Child Health Bureau’s (HRSA MCHB) National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) for children ages 3 to 5. 

Melanie Funchess – A Personal Journey Through Advocacy
Melanie is an advocates advocate. She directs community engagement for the Mental Health Association in Rochester, NY. A large part of her work is to make connections with diverse communities, bringing them together to strengthen the fabric of services and supports 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. In this interview, we 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. Enjoy the episode, and remember to subscribe to the podcast. Click here to pick the podcast player of your choice.

Unsafe School Facilities Reinforce Educational Inequities
The burden of inadequate school facilities disproportionately impact disadvantaged students and students of color. Alejandro Vazquez-Martinez, Michael Hansen, and Diana Quintero explain how this problem is another facet of environmental racism that affects marginalized groups and what can be done to combat it.

COVID-19 — Include Immigrant Families and Children in Relief Effort
This spring, Congress denied the tax-paying families of an estimated 3.5 million children economic help under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. That’s right: families who have contributed billions in taxes, families with U.S. citizen children, were cut off from bare-bones financial assistance simply because one or both parents has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). As many in our nation are grappling with the past mistakes and trying to build a future free of systemic barriers for people of color, we need Congress to do its part.

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About the Author

Scott Bryant-Comstock

My passion is helping to shape policy and practice in children’s mental health. 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 for the exchange of ideas on how to continually improve children’s mental health research, policy and practice.

In addition to my role with the CMHNetwork, I host The Optimistic Advocate Podcast, a weekly interview show where I explore how innovative people find ways to improve mental health for themselves, others, and the community at-large.

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