Friday Update

Friday Update 12-30-19

December 30, 2019

Greetings, faithful readers. Can you believe it? 2019 is just about in the bag! In this issue of Friday Update, we are taking a stroll down memory lane, 2019 style, and highlighting some of the most popular reads of this year. But first, let’s start with what was far and away the most popular video this past year – ‘Evan Finds The Third Room‘ by Khruangbin. What makes this video so infectious is the performance of Han Li, a grandmother from Shanghai, China, who stars in the video as a hula hoop aficionado. Enjoy our number one video of the year, and then get to readin’ Friday Update, cuz we got work to do!

But first…

Last Chance to Make Your Year-End Tax-Deductible Donation to the Children’s Mental Health Network Today!
Everything we do is made possible through the contributions of our readers. One hundred percent of donations go toward the production of Friday Update and the maintenance of our website. As a reminder, I don’t take a salary, so you can rest assured that your contribution directly supports our efforts to find the most current information, resources, and opinion pieces that are shaping the landscape in children’s mental health. If you agree with me that now, more than ever, we need this forum for the exchange of ideas and information, please consider making a year-end donation so that we can keep Friday Update coming your way. Thank you!

Oh, one more thing…

Tampa Conference Agenda Now Online!
The agenda for the Tampa Conference is now online, and it is a winner! Check it out, and remember to register and book your hotel room soon. We are close to being sold out!

Okay, now we can get started…

Most Popular Reads of 2019 – In no particular order…
Note: Before you get settled in, know that this is just some of the top reads from this past year (500+ views or downloads). There were many more, but the list is already long, so plan on snuggling up with your favorite hot beverage and get ready for a long read with these gems from 2019.

Belly Breathe
Do you know what Common, Colbie Caillat, and Elmo have in common? They all practice mindful breathing, and it sure does make a difference. Okay, Network faithful, take 3 minutes to do some mindful breathing with Elmo. C’mon, it’s Elmo! No one can resist Elmo!!

Documenting Hate
The 2016 election left many in America afraid – of intolerance and the violence it can inspire. The need for accurate facts on the details and frequency of hate crimes and other incidents born of prejudice has never been more urgent. There is simply no reliable national data on hate crimes. And no government agency documents lower-level incidents of harassment and intimidation, such as online or real-life bullying. Understanding and documenting incidents like these – from hate-inspired murders to anti-Semitic graffiti to racist online trolling – requires new approaches. That’s why Pro Publica has marshaled a national coalition of news organizations intent on reporting the nature and scope of hate crimes and bias incidents in the United States. Learn more about this important project!

What Were You Thinking? Brain Development in Young Adults
iSPARC is out with a new tip sheet focusing on brain development in young adults. This tip sheet describes typical and atypical brain development in young adulthood, and what can be expected in terms of executive functioning, impulse control, risk-taking, and other behaviors. Best practices for working with young adults by understanding their developing brain and resources to learn more are provided. Read the tip sheet on the iSPARC website.

The Crisis of Youth Mental Health
Eliot Brenner, President, and CEO of the Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut and CMHNetwork Advisory Council member takes a close look at the challenge and expense of providing evidence-based practices in outpatient publicly funded clinic settings. A recent study found that only 2 percent of children using publicly funded services in the United States received an evidence-based treatment based on scientific research. Brenner points out that for those clinics that do offer evidence-based practices, there are often waitlists, “making the treatment options virtually inaccessible for the vast majority of children.” In this article, Brenner takes an in-depth look at how private philanthropy, in collaboration with government, business, and the nonprofit sector could work together to ensure that all children needing mental health treatment receive it.

Mindful Schools Helps Children Deal with Toxic Stress
CMHNetwork Intern extraordinaire, Melissa Sirola, takes an in-depth look at the Mindful Schools program in California. Mindful Schools presents a curriculum for teaching mindfulness that is a framework, presenting the fundamentals, so educators can understand the basics of mindfulness and the movement to introduce it in school-based settings.

The Research Gap: How the Gun Debate Distracts Us from Supporting Survivors of Mass Shootings
A shooter terrorizes a college campus; dozens are hurt, several are dead. You can hear a pin drop as the nation realizes a mass shooting has occurred in the United States. We brace as the shock and sorrow hits our system. Soon the airwaves are filled with questions. Who is the shooter? Why did they do this? How many people were harmed? What happened in those moments? As answers emerge and victims tell their stories of terror, we sense the harm cannot be understood by numbers alone. Their stories move us, and in our distress, we strive to make sense of an incomprehensible situation. We then ask a more difficult question, “how can this be prevented?” Read Gina Gervase’s Morning Zen post describing the lack of research on school shootings, the need for the development of a school shooting survivor database, and how you can get involved to help improve research in this critical area.

Adverse Childhood Experiences Are Different Than Child Trauma, and It’s Critical to Understand Why
Legislators, caregivers, and the media increasingly recognize that childhood adversity poses risks to individual health and wellbeing. The original Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study has helped raise public awareness about this critical public health issue. However, as the use of ACEs questionnaires for identifying potentially harmful childhood experiences has gained popularity, it is important to understand how ACEs differ from other commonly used terms, including childhood adversity, trauma, and toxic stress.

CDC Healthy Schools: BAM! A Website for Kids
The CDC Healthy Schools program has developed the Body and Mind website for kids ages 9-12, their parents, and teachers, which features fun and engaging information on health topics such as managing stress, including an original comic series.

El Camino: A Goal-setting Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
El Camino, a new pregnancy prevention program, motivates students to avoid early and unprotected sex. Early research indicates that El Camino, a goal-setting teen pregnancy prevention program developed by Child Trends, increases students’ knowledge about contraception and boosts their confidence in talking about sex and consent. The majority of students who participated in the El Camino pilot reported that the program had made them either less likely to have sex, more likely to use contraception or more likely to use a condom. Sure beats programming that only promotes abstinence!

SOCIAL GUARDIANS: The Shape Of The Things To Come
What does Twitch, a psychiatrist, a semi-professional gamer, and the American Academy of Child Psychiatry have in common? They have all put their faith in the fantastic team at Youth ERA, which is innovating a cutting-edge approach to engaging youth and young adults. Wanna see what’s working that you likely don’t have a clue even exists? Read this Morning Zen post.

As Suicides Rise, Insurers Find Ways to Deny Mental Health Coverage
This article is a challenging but important read. The U.S. is in the midst of a mental health crisis. In 2017, 47,000 Americans died by suicide and 70,000 from drug overdoses. And 17.3 million adults suffered at least one major depressive episode. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, a landmark law, passed more than a decade ago, requires insurers to provide comparable coverage for mental health and medical treatments. Even so, insurers are denying claims, limiting coverage, and finding other ways to avoid complying with the law.

For Best Results, Engagement Comes First
One of the most challenging parts of working with youth is finding ways to authentically engage with them when working under time constraints. For this reason, Youth ERA – a national nonprofit specializing in peer-delivered services and youth empowerment – created the Youth Engagement Kits. The kits are designed to build rapport, develop trust, identify goals, and increase engagement during the first initial meetings between youth and provider.

A Mother Responds to Childhood Trauma, and a Family Begins to Heal
I am pleased to share with you a poignant Morning Zen Post written a while back by a mother with a mental illness who, after reading many Morning Zen posts on childhood trauma, decided to write a Zen post of her own. In this post, the mom reflects on her mental breakdown and the high likelihood of trauma that it caused for her daughter. When the mom submitted her Zen post, she told me I could not print it without the permission of her daughter. Her daughter’s response to our request for consent will touch you and remind you that humanity wins in the end.

The Power of Parenting: How to Help Your Child After a Parent or Caregiver Dies
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network recently released The Power of Parenting: How to Help Your Child After a Parent or Caregiver Dies. This fact sheet draws from experiences of bereaved caregivers, researchers, and mental health professionals. It offers guidance on how to talk to your child after a parent or caregiver dies including, how to face new fears, how to take care of yourself, how to hold on to the old while embracing the new, how to create comforting connections, as well as how to seek additional support for children.

Dear Conservative Friend
Liza Long, aka, the Anarchist Soccer Mom, shares an open letter to someone she unfriended on Facebook as a result of differences of opinion about the decision by the Trump administration to separate children seeking asylum from their families at the border.

A Celebration of Pride Month with a Reminder of the Beauty That Is in All of Us
Enjoy this heartfelt video from Bret Every, singing his song ‘What a Beautiful Day.’ The song focuses on a wedding ceremony celebrating the marriage of two men, but more importantly, it focuses on the beauty and love that is in all of us. What a great reminder for us to share with the youth and young adults in our lives who identify as LGBTQ.

Schools in England Teach Mindfulness. Where Does the U.S. Stand?
In February 2019, Damien Hinds, the British Secretary of Education, announced that students nationwide would be gradually introduced to issues around mental health, wellbeing, and happiness from the beginning of primary school. The aim is to combat recent increases in anxiety, depression, and other mental-emotional health issues among the nation’s children. What did they choose to use as a method to accomplish this? Mindfulness! Schools in the United States need to catch-up with their counterparts in the United Kingdom!

Sesame Street Focuses on Dads
Research shows that an involved dad can make a big difference in a child’s life. When kids feel supported, understood, and loved by their fathers, they grow up more resilient and more successful in school. This month, Sesame Street in Communities is featuring new resources to help you support dads. Explore the Family Bonding topic page for playful activities and simple strategies to share.

Rookie Therapists, Rookie Family Support
Lisa Lambert writes about her first-hand experience with rookie therapists, and she, herself, being a rookie family advocate. Both need experienced mentors from which to learn. Sage advice from one of the most respected family advocates in the United States.

Food for Thought: A Youth Perspective on Recovery-Oriented Practice
The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (MHCC) Youth Council has created a video and discussion guide to help service providers understand the needs of youth when it comes to recovery-oriented practice. The Guide breaks down what youth see as some of the core principles of recovery-oriented mental health and addiction services. Using the metaphor of a restaurant interaction between a server and a patron, it provides a light-hearted demonstration of the key concepts of recovery-oriented practice.

20 Things We Should Say More Often
Never too late for a reminder from Kid President on how to be civil, with his 20 things we should say more often. Enjoy the video, cuz who doesn’t just love to have a good dose of Kid President every once and awhile?

Presidential Tone Deafness, Civility, and Hope
Earlier this year, at a rally for President Trump in North Carolina, we witnessed the birth of the “Send her back” chant. Politics aside, here is what I think sickened me most. In the video coverage of the speech, you can see children and older adolescents in the crowd mimicking the words “send her back” and then get full-throated, joining the rest of the audience in the chant… What message is being imprinted on these young minds as they participate in the mindless chanting of “Send her back?” These young people likely have no understanding of the meaning of what they are saying. They see their parents do it. They see their President do it. It must be the thing to do, right?

Building a Trauma-Informed Child Welfare System
The Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut recently released a report chronicling their seven-year effort to transform the child welfare. As always, they are generous with sharing their knowledge, so take advantage of it to help you with your own state and local efforts.

Immigrant Rights
Regardless of your immigration status, you have guaranteed rights under the Constitution. Learn more here about your rights as an immigrant and how to express them.

A Mother Relies on Her “Connections” to Navigate the Complexities of In-Patient Hospitalization for a Child in Crisis. But What If Those Connections Did Not Exist?
Linda Callejas is a mother with “connections” in the behavioral health care field. When her child went into crisis and needed in-patient hospitalization, trusted colleagues were available and ready to help her navigate the process. But what if she was a mother without connections? Read Linda’s thoughtful essay describing her journey and reminding us of the importance of human connection, especially for those without “connections.”

Self -Care is Putting on YOUR Oxygen Mask First
Here is yet another resource from the Transitions to Adulthood Center for Research (do these guys ever sleep?). Check out their new Tip Sheet for Caretakers of those living with mental health conditions. The tip sheet includes links to resources and is written by their Family Advisory Board. Man, what a bunch of overachievers. We love it!

Pathways RTC Abruptly De-Funded by SAMHSA
Another cut by SAMHSA occurred recently, and this one hurts. For reasons that are puzzling to me (actually, I have not been able to find a publicly stated reason), SAMHSA decided at the last minute to pull funding for the Pathways RTC at Portland State. If you are as concerned about the arbitrary nature of this decision as I am, take a moment to let your representatives and SAMHSA know and encourage them to reconsider!

The Dangerous Consequences of Classroom Consequences
Children who are noticed, praised, and reinforced for peace, productivity, health, and happiness by adults and peers in schools grow up to be peaceful, productive, healthy, and happy. What tools are available to do this, you ask? CMHNetwork Science Advisor, Dennis Embry, shows us how the PAX Good Behavior Game helps.

Using Gold Standard Science to Prevent Violence & Shootings: Not Smart-Watch Profiling
Ah, Brave New World is upon us, with proposals to use computerized, Silicon Valley, and Defense Department methods to stop shooters and related violence. The proposed savior would be a new Federal Agency, called HARPA, which is calling for exploring whether technology like phones and smart-watches can be used to detect when mentally ill people are about to turn violent.”

Are We Trauma-Informed? Tools to Measure Progress in a Program, School, or Organization
The Child Health Development Institute is out with a new Issue Brief focusing on child trauma. Interest in addressing child trauma has surged in the past two decades, sparked by research on the effects of trauma exposure. As a result, child-serving organizations are increasingly integrating trauma-informed approaches; however, there is limited research on how to measure the effectiveness of these approaches. This Issue Brief reviews 49 surveys (or measures) of trauma-informed approaches and identifies promising examples that can be used by programs, organizations, and broader service systems to help evaluate how they are supporting the health of children affected by trauma.

A Nation Burned Out: The Neurobiology of Finding Grace Under Pressure
It seems like wherever you go in this country, most people you encounter are emotionally exhausted. Interestingly, emotional exhaustion appears to be the hallmark characteristic of burnout, which may be why, on the surface, burnout and depression look very similar. In this Morning Zen post, Laurie Ellington shares insights from the fields of modern neuroscience, mind-body research, and the psychophysiology of stress resilience that help us explore ways to navigate the current toxic social climate that pervades America.

Peer Specialists in the Mental Health Workforce: A Critical Reassessment
It is time to seriously consider re-focusing our energy and resources away from placing peer staff in roles where they support the mental health system’s status quo and toward the goal of making high-quality peer advocacy available to people faced with coercion by the mental health system.

We are publishing our very own SAMHSA Watch – a recurring feature that will focus on SAMHSA, the small but ever-so-important federal agency that has a large footprint on children’s mental health. Let’s face it; the agency needs our help. Recent news accounts about employee lawsuits, sinking morale, tales of spooky oversight of employee actions leading to banishments, and the rampant exiting of brilliant people; I could go on, but you get the idea. Let’s help SAMHSA find its way. But first, we have a homework assignment for you.

Happy New Year
Okay, Network faithful, I hope you enjoyed the 2019 greatest hits. I am looking forward to working with you in 2020!

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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.

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