July 16, 2008

Partnerships Strengthen Childrens Mental Health Care in Tennessee


Contact: Crystal Borde, +1-202-331-4323, +1-626-664-0511 (cell), for 2008 National Training Institutes

Data Shows Comprehensive Community-Based Services Critical for Helping Youth with Mental Health Needs Thrive

NASHVILLE, Tenn.,July 16/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Partnerships with schools and child welfare services are necessary elements of a comprehensive public health approach to childrens mental health care, which is the focus of this weeks 2008 National Training Institutes (the Institutes) conducted by Georgetown University and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Comparable to national evaluation data, Vanderbilt University researchers found a 59 percent decrease in in-school suspensions and a 52 percent decrease in out-of-school suspensions among Tennessee youth who receive services from local system of care communities. Overall, systems of care help children and youth spend less time in inpatient care, experience fewer school suspensions, and improve their academic performance and school attendance.

Recently released national data from SAMHSA parallels trends in Tennessee data, showing a 44 percent reduction in school suspensions or expulsions for youth aged 14 to 18 after receiving 18 months of system of care services and supports. National data also indicate that suicide attempts -- a leading cause of death for youth aged 14 to 18 -- dropped by more than two-thirds.

Tennessee is committed to advancing system of care initiatives for children and youth with mental health challenges and their families, said Virginia Trotter Betts, M.S.N., J.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and one of the featured speakers at the Institutes. As co-chair for the newly legislated Council on Childrens Mental Health, I will be working with policy makers and advocates from across the state to develop a plan for a statewide system of care where childrens mental health services are child- centered, family-driven, and culturally and linguistically competent and that provides coordinated approaches and strategies to meet mental health needs of children throughout the state.

The Institutes are designed to strengthen systems of care, which are networks of community-based comprehensive services and supports that help children with mental health challenges to thrive at home, at school, and in the community. This year, the Institutes will emphasize three areas that systems of care can improve services, supports, and outcomes for children and families: 1) partnering with schools, 2) partnering with child welfare, and 3) implementing a public health approach to childrens mental health care.

Research shows that children with mental health needs do better when treatment is provided in partnership with children, families, and public and private organizations, such as schools and child welfare, said Phyllis Magrab, Ph.D., director of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development. The Institutes are designed to create opportunities to increase collaboration through peer learning, research sharing and hands-on learning experiences.

Partnership-building is a core element of successful systems of care. Schools and other child-serving agencies, such as child welfare, are among the primary resources for identifying and addressing mental health problems in children and youth and serve as key partners in helping youth thrive. To help programs assist youth with mental health needs from diverse backgrounds, the Institutes will offer a new series of targeted institutes to provide participants intensive learning experiences on additional issues critical for system of care development, such as youth in the juvenile justice system, systems of care for young children and their families and suicide prevention.

Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., will receive the Caring for Children Lifetime Achievement Award at the Institutes for his ongoing work to promote a public health approach to mental health and to integrate mental health and primary care. As the director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Dr. Satcher works to reduce the stigma associated with mental illnesses, improve access to mental health services by integrating mental health and primary care, and advance community mental health programs that enhance resiliency and prevent mental illness.

At the 12th biennial Institutes, more than 2,400 policy makers, youth leaders, family advocates and mental health professionals will convene in Nashville from July 16-20 to spotlight new strategies for strengthening community-based systems of care for children and youth with mental health needs. The Institutes are conducted by the National Technical Assistance Center for Childrens Mental Health at Georgetown University in partnership with the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch of the federal Center for Mental Health Services, SAMHSA. Additional support for the 2008 Training Institutes is being provided by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

SOURCE 2008 National Training Institutes

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