To address the increasing mental health needs of today's youth, the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for School Mental Health Analysis and Action (CSMHA) will hold a two-day conference to learn more about successful strategies that improve the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents through school-based programs and initiatives. The 11th Annual Conference on Advancing School-Based Mental Health will be held Sept. 29-30 at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. The meeting, called "Effective Work in Schools: A National Community of Practice on School Mental Health Practice," will bring together mental and child health experts, advocates, youth, families, and policy-makers.
"The school mental health movement reflects a shared agenda – families, schools and communities coming together to develop programs that address unmet needs of youth and help reduce barriers to learning," says Mark Weist, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the CSMHA. "School
mental health programs have become a significant force in almost all states, and evidence is emerging that when done well, they can have numerous positive impacts including helping youth do well in school and contributing to significant cost savings. This conference will include people from diverse disciplines from around the country and overseas who will share lessons learned and provide helpful resources related to advancing school mental health services in a way that matches the needs of local schools and communities."
According to Dr. Weist, there is a tremendous need for mental health outreach to youth in the United States and worldwide. "The U.S. Surgeon General's office recently reported that 11 percent of young people between the ages of nine and 17 have a major mental illness that results in significant impairment at school," he says. "Additional research indicates that at least one in five children and adolescents may have a mental health problem and at least one in 10, or approximately six million young people, may have an emotional disturbance. These findings highlight the limited capacity of existing mental health services in meeting an ever growing demand because, unfortunately, an estimated two-thirds of all young people with mental health problems are not getting the help they need."
The University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for School Mental Health Analysis and Action is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to strengthen policies and programs in school mental health in order to improve learning and promote success for America's youth. Its annual conference provides a forum for diverse groups of professionals to join together to engage in dialogue, collaboration and mutual support with a goal of improving the emotional, behavioral and school functioning of children and adolescents from pre-school through high school and beyond.
At this year's conference in Baltimore, more than 100 sessions, 10 breakfast meetings, 10 lunch discussions, a youth panel and plenary panels will be presented. Science-based practices and programs will be highlighted throughout the presentations. The keynote address will be given by Dr. Lucille Eber, coordinator of Illinois Statewide, and Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Additional speakers include Nancy Grasmick, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, and Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore City Health Commissioner.
This year's conference is presented in collaboration with the IDEA Partnership funded by the Office of Special Education, which is housed at the National Association of State Directors of Special Education in Alexandria, Viriginia. For more information, visit the conference web site at http://csmha.umaryland.edu.
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