The conference is held by the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for School Mental Health
The growing mental health needs of young people will be the focus of a three-day conference to discuss successful strategies that improve the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents through school-based programs and initiatives. The meeting, the 12th Annual Conference on Advancing School-Based Mental Health, will be held Oct. 25-27, 2007, at the Orlando Omni Hotel in Champions Gate, Florida. The annual meeting is organized by the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for School Mental Health (CSMH).
This year’s conference, “What Works in Schools: Sustaining a National Community of Practice on Collaborative School Behavioral Health,” will bring together mental and child health experts, advocates, youth, families, and policy-makers.
“The purpose of the conference is to share knowledge and promote networking to enhance mental health programs in schools across the country,” says Mark Weist, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the CSMH. “There is a national movement toward more comprehensive mental health programs in schools, as there is increasing evidence that these programs help bridge the gap between youth who need and youth who actually receive mental health services. These programs achieve outcomes important for schools and society, by reducing barriers to learning and improving 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 General’s office reports 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 capability of existing mental health services to meet an ever growing demand. Unfortunately, an estimated two-thirds of all young people with mental health problems are not getting the help they need.”
Increasingly, schools have become the primary site for addressing the inter-connected academic and mental health needs of youth. Schools provide a natural setting where young people can access services. As the needs increase, schools, community agencies, and other stakeholders are joining together to develop innovative programs and frameworks that aim to expand school mental health services.
The University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for School Mental Health is one of two centers in the United States whose mission is to strengthen 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 diverse groups of professionals 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.
There will be more than 100 sessions at this year’s conference. Science-based practices and programs will be highlighted. Participants will discuss events that have had a negative impact on children’s mental health, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and school shootings, and how to promote resiliency.
“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.”
This year’s conference is presented in collaboration with the IDEA Partnership funded by the Office of Special Education Programs, which is housed at the National Association of State Directors of Special Education in Alexandria, Virginia. For more information, visit the conference web site at http://csmh.umaryland.edu.
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