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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Prioritizing Children’s #MentalHealth

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Here’s how #healthprofessionals are using research and innovative practices to address #suicideprevention, trauma and substance use disorder in #children and #adolescents.

Laura Cassar

“The numbers are staggering,” said Larry Burns, president and CEO of The Children’s Foundation. “As a foundation, we are committed to taking the lead on supporting children’s health and wellness by guiding future policy, awarding grants to community partners, and producing signature events like this summit.”

Dennis” has hit a wall. He has been struggling with his #mentalhealth since age 14, when his father died of #suicide. Now, at 17, he equates feeling alive with feeling pain. He just wants it all to stop.

What Dennis and other kids like him need most is help from a #mentalhealthprofessional who is not afraid to go deep — maybe even “under water,” if necessary — to help them come out of the place where they feel as if they are drowning. “Talking about #suicide is a skill and an art,” explained Nancy Buyle, a therapist who specializes in #suicideprevention and counseling. “We need more people that are willing to ‘get in the water’ with #patients.”

ABOUT THIS REPORT

The two-day virtual 2021 #Child & #Adolescent #BehavioralHealth Summit, held April 13-14, invited professionals and insiders to address critical topics related to #mentalhealth, wellness, substance use disorder and #suicideprevention. The event was designed for clinicians, social service providers, educators, #parents, and anyone who works with youth. Participants had an opportunity to receive continuing education credits. During the event, 158 registered attendees experienced 10 main stage sessions featuring the following speakers:

  • KeynoteChristina Meredith, Miss California 2013; Trauma and Foster Care Survivor; Commissioned Officer, U.S. Army; Author, “Cinder Girl: My Journey Out of the Ashes to a Life of Hope”
  • KeynoteMark and Kym Hilinski, Co-founders, Hilinski’s Hope
  • KeynoteLibby Rapin, Co-founder, BluWave Wellbeing
  • Daniel Ament, Founder, Fight for Wellness 
  • Matt Bell, Co-founder, Midwest Recovery Center
  • Larry Burns, President and CEO, The Children’s Foundation
  • Nancy Buyle, Therapist, Alliance Professional Counseling, Board Member, KnowResolve
  • Shenandoah Chefalo, Author & Advocate, Garbage Bag Suitcase, Faculty, Center for Trauma Resilient Communities
  • Dr. Sarah Domoff, PhD, Associate Professor and Licensed Psychologist, Central Michigan University
  • Thomas Dorney, Director, The Root Cause Coalition
  • Luanne Thomas Ewald, Chief Operating Officer, University of Michigan Health System’s CS Mott Children’s Hospital
  • Dr. Arash Javanbakht, MD, Director of the Stress, Trauma and Anxiety Research Clinic (STARC), Wayne State University
  • Dr. Elizabeth Koschmann, TRAILS Program Director, University of Michigan Medical School , Department of Psychiatry
  • Dennis Liegghio, Founder, KnowResolve
  • Anthony Muller, MA, LPC, CAADC, CCS, SPADA, Vice President, Substance Use Disorder Services & Clinical Services Development, Samaritas
  • Dr. Katherine Rosenblum, PhD, Professor, University of Michigan
  • Kirk Smith, MHSA, President and CEO, Greater Flint Health Coalition

This report is a summary of the summit content; to watch the sessions, visit https://yourchildrensfoundation.org/2021-cabhs-videos/.

Buyle talked about her approach to #suicideprevention and counseling as part of the recent 2021 #Child & #Adolescent #BehavioralHealth Summit produced by The Children’s Foundation, the state’s largest funder dedicated solely to advancing the health and wellness of Michigan #children. The two-day virtual conference brought together community leaders, families and health providers to share #behavioralhealth best practices for #children and young #adults. 

As part of a roleplay exercise during the summit, Buyle played the part she knows well: that of a therapist counseling an #adolescent with suicidal feelings. The part of 17-year-old “Dennis” was played by Dennis Liegghio, founder of KnowResolve, an organization dedicated to connecting with #children who are suffering from #depression and thoughts of #suicide. The roleplay was intended to provide #mentalhealthprofessionals with tools for establishing a relationship with someone who is suicidal. Dennis told his therapist during the roleplay that he tried therapy years ago but quit because he felt judged. 

Teens like “Dennis” are not alone. According to a nationwide survey shared as part of the summit, 60 percent of surveyed #adolescents have experienced at least one traumatic event and 50 percent have experienced #mentalillness, with 22 percent claiming severe impairment from their #mentalillness.

“The numbers are staggering,” said Larry Burns, president and CEO of The Children’s Foundation. “As a foundation, we are committed to taking the lead on supporting children’s health and wellness by guiding future policy, awarding grants to community partners, and producing signature events like this summit.”Trauma: For many, where it all begins

“What is the worst stress you’ve experienced in your life?” This question can help #mentalhealthprofessionals get to the core of a #patient’s distress. But, according to Dr. Arash Javanbakht, director of the #Stress, Trauma and #Anxiety Research Clinic (STARC) at Wayne State University, it often goes unasked. 

Javanbakht led a session on the role of trauma and #PostTraumaticStressDisorder (#PTSD) during the summit. He explained that about 8 percent of #Americans suffer from #PTSD, described as an overgeneralization of fear, when memories are not where they belong in a person’s timeline. With #PTSD, the brain reacts as if things are happening now, not as a memory. The brain is trained to be in a constant survival mode, making normal life nearly impossible to enjoy. 

Javanbakht said that diagnosing #PTSD is not always a part of a children’s #mentalhealthprofessional’s training. “The two things you have to ask about are usually not volunteered: sex life and trauma,” he advises #mentalhealthprofessionals. “Trust is hard, especially when it comes to painful memories.”

Intrusive #PTSD symptoms don’t go away just because a person is removed from a traumatic environment. In addition, 50 percent to 70 percent of those suffering from #PTSD will also suffer from other #mentalhealthconditions like #anxiety and substance abuse. 

Javanbakht discussed different treatments for #PTSD, including a variety of therapy options as well as medications. He said it’s important to see #PTSD as a disease that can be treated. “We can fix it and we will fix it,” he said. 

A panel of experts, moderated by Larry Burns, President & CEO, The Children’s Foundation, discussed #mentalhealth and #studentathletes. #Teens recovering from substance use 

“Sarah” hated feelings. She had so many bad ones — social #anxiety was the worst. Drinking helped; Xanax was even better. Sarah started taking the drug in seventh grade, and by age 15 she was hooked, going to school every morning drunk and high. 

Sarah told her story of addiction and recovery as part of a panel discussion with teens during the summit.  Anthony Muller, vice president of substance use disorder (SUD) programming at Samaritas, moderated the discussion. Founded in 1934, Samaritas is a statewide human services organization serving more than 20,000 individuals each year. Samaritas works with at-risk families, helping the homeless, offering refugee services, foster care and adoption, affordable living, home health services and senior care. After seeing a rising need for substance use treatment and counseling services for youth in its foster care program, Samaritas invested in a statewide SUD treatment program, including 10 clinics across the state. Its SUD treatment model includes individual and group counseling, medication-assisted treatment case management and recovery coaching. 

For Sarah, help came January 11, 2017. After months of trying to cut back on her drug use to focus on her first semester at college, she binged on a week’s worth of cocaine in one night. The result scared her into recovery and detox — a painful process she said she “never wants to experience again.”

When asked by Muller what #adults are missing in helping #adolescents who are struggling with substance abuse, Sarah answered honestly: “They just need to be there to listen non-judgmentally.”

A panel of experts, moderated by Luanne Thomas Ewald, COO, University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, discussed the social determinants of health equity and their impact on children’s health. Addressing the social determinants of health

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

#COVID-19 exposed multiple cracks in the #mentalhealth system.  

In a recent national poll about children’s health concerns, eight of the top 10 concerns were associated with changes in lifestyle — #socialmedia/screen time, internet safety, unhealthy eating, #depression/#suicide and a lack of physical activity — related to the #pandemic. And when the findings were examined by #racial/#ethnic groups, #Black #parents rated racism as their top health issue. #Racism impacts children’s health in many ways, including higher rates of #depression, #anxiety and #behavioralproblems. #Black #parents were also the only group to include gun injuries and unequal access to health care as top concerns.

The poll was commissioned by Michigan Medicine’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, and the hospital’s COO, Luanne Thomas Ewald, said the findings have forced a more focused conversation on social determinants of health. She led a discussion on health disparities and social determinants of health during the summit. 

Tom Dorney, executive director of The Root Cause Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy organization with a mission to reverse and end the systemic root causes of health inequities, agreed with Ewald that the #pandemic brought these health disparities to light. 

“For 10 years I have tried to have conversations, but no one was addressing social determinants and inequities of health,” Dorney said. “It’s a new trend that people actually care about this stuff.”

Kirk Smith, CEO of the Greater Flint Health Coalition, noted that 80 percent of factors affecting health happen outside of the healthcare system.

His organization has spent the past five years focusing on health inequities. Its work has impacted more than 50,000 citizens, reducing ER visits and hospitalizations for #children, showing an improvement in missed school days and participation in better health choices. 

The Greater Flint Health Coalition’s efforts also include addressing systemic inequities like transportation.

“It’s not enough to just address the sickness or disease,” Smith explained.

Toxic #stress, whether caused by poverty, unaddressed #mentalhealthissues or community violence, and its effect on health are a focus of Dr. Katherine Rosenblum, co-director of the Zero to Thrive Program at the University of Michigan.

“Accumulation of #stress overwhelms the body’s ability to cope and adapt,” Rosenblum said during the discussion. “Early relationships can help create resilience to mitigate the impact of #stress. Supporting parents is key; we support the #parent, so they can support their #children.”

With the evidence-backed belief that the earliest years of life are critically important and strong relationships are the foundation for a family’s success, Zero to Thrive promotes the health and resilience of families from pregnancy through early childhood with research, education, partnership and service.

“To grow a more reliant tree, you need to have healthy soil,” Rosenblum said. 

SCREEN TIME STRUGGLES

Tweens spend on average 4.5 hours a day on a screen; for teens, 6.5 hours is common.  And like many health issues, demographics make a difference, with lower income #adolescents spending three additional hours a day on a screen. However, according to Dr. Sarah Domoff, an associate professor, licensed #psychologist at Central Michigan University and an expert on screen time and children’s media use, it’s not only the number of hours that count.

“Content matters,” said Domoff, who established the Problematic Media Assessment and Treatment Clinic at the Center for Children, Families and Communities at CMU. “What they see, who they engage with, the context of use — these things matter more than just pure hours.”

Domoff shared the symptoms or behaviors that parents and #healthprofessionals can use to assess problematic media use:  

  • Screen time is hard for a child to stop.
  • It’s the only thing that motivates them.
  • They are preoccupied and hyper-focused.
  • It interferes with family activities.
  • They are withdrawn.
  • They are deceptive.
  • It’s the only thing that makes them feel better after a bad day — their only coping tool.

Should a parent determine that screen time is problematic, Domoff advises against a complete digital detox. 

“Instead, increase other pleasant activities,” Domoff suggested. “Involve them to make their own plan on managing their relationship with their phones and #socialmedia. Let them determine what they want to change. Help them develop healthy media habits, to recognize positive and negative content and promote balance. ”#Behavioralhealth therapy and educational outcomes

Here’s an alarming statistic: while nearly 50 percent of #adolescents suffer from a #mentalillness, only 20 percent receive effective treatment. 

That lack of treatment has a detrimental impact on educational outcomes. Young people who are experiencing symptoms of #depression, anxiety or #PTSD may be much more likely to avoid #school, showing low attendance, low engagement and, of course, poor academic achievement and attainment overall.

The University of Michigan created a program in 2013 with a goal of making #mentalhealthservices accessible in schools. The TRAILS Program (Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students) trains #teachers and school workers in evidence-based practices like cognitive #behaviortherapy (CBT) and mindfulness to reduce #students’ symptoms of #depression and #anxiety. The three-tier approach allows TRAILS to meet the needs of all #students, whether it is prevention and #stigma reduction, evidence-based mental care or #suicideprevention and intervention. Resource materials for #students and #teachers are provided at no cost. #Teacher and staff support continues after training with additional resources, training and coaching/consultation.

“Nearly 10,000 people have attended a TRAILS training and an estimated 90,000 #students have benefitted from TRAILS programming,” said TRAILS founder, Dr. Elizabeth Koschmann. “With continued support and partnerships, TRAILS seeks to reach all students in Michigan.”

Please watch yourchildrensfoundation.org for information about the 2022 #Child & #Adolescent #BehavioralHealth Summit.

child in a black jacket whispering to a woman in white shirt
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on Pexels.com

 

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