To address the growing mental health needs of today’s youth, the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for School Mental Health Analysis and Action will bring together mental health experts, educators and policy makers at a two-day conference to discuss ways to bring mental health services to youth in the school setting. The 10th Annual Conference on Advancing School-Based Mental Health will be held Oct. 28-29 in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Renaissance Hotel.
“The purpose of this conference is to share knowledge and promote networking to enhance mental health programs in schools across the country,” says Mark Weist, Ph.D., director of the CSMHA and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “There is a national movement toward more comprehensive mental health programs in schools because of increasing evidence that these programs help to bridge the gap between youth who need and youth who receive mental health services. Evidence is growing that these programs help achieve outcomes important for schools and society, such as improved school behavior and achievement.”
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 Generals’ office recently reported that 11 percent of young people between the ages of 9 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 an emotional disturbance. Unfortunately, an estimated two-thirds of all young people with mental health problems are not getting the help they need.”
Schools have become increasingly popular as the primary site for addressing the interconnected academic and mental health needs of students. “Schools provide a natural setting for outreach services to meet students on their own terms,” he says. “As mental health needs increase, schools, community agencies and other stakeholders are joining together to develop innovative programs to expand school mental health services.”
The University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for School Mental Health Analysis and Action is one of two centers in the United States with a mission of strengthening policy, training, practice, and research in school mental health to improve learning and promote success for America's youth. Its annual conference provides a forum for educators, youth, families, and school health and mental health providers, administrators, and policy makers to join together to learn more about strategies to improve the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents through school based programs and initiatives.
At this year’s conference in Cleveland, more than 80 sessions, 10 breakfast meetings, a youth panel and plenary panels will be presented. Keynote address will be given by Dr. Karl Dennis, pioneer of the Wraparound Approach, Sandra Spencer, executive director of the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Etienne Wagner, pioneer of the communities of practice concept.
Participants at this year’s conference also will discuss stressful events that have a negative impact on children’s mental health, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and how to promote resiliency in children dealing with trauma.
“When a mental health problem goes untreated, it may have a serious emotional impact on the child, the family and the surrounding community,” says Dr. Weist. “A critical task in front of us is to build support for effective mental health programs for youth on their terms in school and other environments. This conference will offer an important opportunity for diverse people involved in or interested in school mental health to come together for state-of-the-art training, networking and the advancement of advocacy.”
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.