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On Monday, March 3, Raymond Crowell, Holly Echo-Hawk Solie, and Larke Nahme Huang provided the keynote addresses at the opening Plenary Session Improving Access to Care and Outcomes for Children from Diverse Racial and Ethnic Backgrounds and their Families. The Center's Director, Robert Friedman, asked each speaker to focus on two themes – 1) How can we improve access to care for children with serious emotional disturbance (SED) and their families, and 2) How can we improve the overall mental health status of children of our nation. Each speaker discussed the importance of bringing research into communities.
Crowell spoke of the African American communities, and the importance of intervention programs that need to consider and address the cultural context of the community. For example, he said creating links with churches are needed because churches are trusted in the African American community. Huang discussed teen suicides in the Fresno California Hmong culture, where, during the late 1990’s, over half the suicides in that county were from the Hmong teens. She also discussed psychological problems of Hispanic teens after 9 – 11 in NYC. “Children suffer silently,” said Huang. “We as mental health providers and advocates struggle to know how to reach out in a timely manner. Multiple strategies are needed. We need to bring the community to our researchers and need to integrate mental health and public health.” Echo-Hawk Solie discussed her knowledge of the Native American communities and the fact that there are 557 recognized tribes with over 250 languages in the United States. “You have to know the population you are working with,” she said. She went on to discuss evidence based practice. “Evidence based practices without the community is guaranteed to miss the mark,” she added. “Our challenge is to get the worlds to overlap. If we can focus on where they diverge, we can make tremendous progress.” Click here to view the presentations.
Tuesday Morning’s session began with a tribute to Judith Katz-Leavy, on the occasion of her retirement from the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration after 32 years of public service. Judy is one of the pioneers in the children’s mental health field, helping to establish the Child and Adolescent Service System Program in the early 1980’s.
Following her tribute, the Gwen Iding Brogden Distinguished Lecture Series included Laurie Flynn and Junius J. Gonzales, M.D. Gonzales spoke about how public health approaches offer a unique opportunity for expanding the child mental health research base. “A public health approach can help issues of unmet need,” he said, and provided examples of child public health initiatives – one which aimed to provide access and improve insurance status for latino children, developed a program that used women in the latino community who were trained to become interviewers. Laurie Flynn discussed her goal of identifying teens at risk of suicide before they attempt to take their own lives. “We need to promote routine mental health check up for all kids aged 13-15. We have started one community at a time, and go where kids are – in the schools, where there often is an infrastructure to support this. Flynn went on to say that it is important to collaborate with schools and discuss with administrators how mental health problems create barriers for learning. Currently, Flynn is targeting three states, New Mexico, Ohio and Florida, where 66 sites are currently offering mental health screenings. Click here to view the presentations.
Sponsored by the Matilda Garcia Initiative: Latin American Research Scholars Exchange, a special International reception was held Monday night. Thomas Bornemann, Director of the Mental Health Research Program at the Carter Center in Atlanta Georgia was invited to share the latest global findings on the well-being of families in World Health Organization’s first ever World Mental Health Report. Following the presentation, entertainment with a Latin flare was enjoyed by all.