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April Town Hall - Follow Up Questions

During the recent Town Hall, panelists fielded questions from the audience. The questions that we ran out of time to address are listed below, along with answers from panelists and local experts.

How can we partner with our school systems to make all of the education, programming and supports each of these organizations offer part of the core curriculum for kids and families K-12?

Dr. Christina Howard, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Forensic Medicine, Kentucky Children's Hospital

  • Some local school systems are members of Face It; however evidence based programs such as ECHO's needs to made available throughout the state.  It should not be left to the local school systems with minimal resources in some counties but at a state level where there can be a set standard for curriculum.

Alissa Briggs, PhD, NCSP, Kentucky Children's Hospital

  • In education, many valuable initiatives and systems stall out due to fatigue. Educators are accustomed to evidence-based practices coming and going. The key to truly partnering and getting something to stick is to start small and slow where there are existing relationships or interest. The investment of the administrative team is also key. I would actually recommend identifying a strong pilot district. Word of mouth travels quickly, and once successful find ways to support the news in traveling to other schools. Once others start to ask for the program and the program has the capacity to scale up without sacrificing the quality of implementation, then see if it can be connected to a state mandate.

Pam Darnall, President/CEO, Family & Children's Place

  • I think community based organizations are eager to partner with Kentucky Department of Education, school districts, and individual schools to assure children and youth have their needs met. I know the Pritchard Committee has legislative priorities to focus on education including their Strong Start initiatives which focus on early learning, and supporting these initiatives could help as well.

How can we encourage young people to seek out mental health services on their own now that they are legally able to do so?  How can we reach out to them to connect them with available services? 

Dr. Christina Howard, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Forensic Medicine, Kentucky Children's Hospital

  • Mental Health needs have increased over 300% since March of 2020; however, mental health services has been a services that has transitioned very well to telemedicine.  Adolescent Medicine program at UK is a strong program with those mental health options; however we need the link of getting young people to those resources.  Again, I cannot stress the importance of strong mental health services such as screenings in the school system and schools partnering with mental health providers in the community to establish ongoing care.

Alissa Briggs, PhD, NCSP, Kentucky Children's Hospital

  • We screen the school population in schools we serve for behavioral health risk, including history of abuse, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. This is done in partnership with the school counselors. Screening initiates contact with school and clinical mental health professionals and often opens the door to students seeking services.

  • Once students seek and are happy with services, they often recommend them to their friends. - Alissa Briggs, PhD, NCSP, Kentucky Children's Hospital

  • Utilizing social media to reduce stigma regarding mental illness and support seeking followed by links to available services may also be helpful.

Pam Darnall, President/CEO, Family & Children's Place

  • I think communication is key—maybe this is another avenue for FaceIt agency partners to work with FaceIT to develop an effective way to communicate this to the  youth across our state (maybe messaging in each school in KY, etc.)

How can we incorporate mental health services into the school systems?

Alissa Briggs, PhD, NCSP, Kentucky Children's Hospital

  •  Partnering with school counselors and administrators to create space for telehealth appointments in schools can help increase access, especially in rural areas.

  • Many school systems have school mental health professionals on staff or contract with outside agencies, such as adolescent medicine and New Vista. It may be helpful to start with a review of what is being done and its impact.

  • The problem is, we are bailing out a ship with a hole in it. About 30% of adolescents endorse depression and about 17% have seriously considered ending their life in the past year (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System). Data suggest that COVID has made things worse. We can’t meet this need with individualized services with the number of therapists and school mental health professionals that exist. We also need to partner with school systems to determine how to engage in prevention, especially in the early elementary years, and how to implement school-wide systems that will support well-being and resilience. We need to work smarter, not harder.

Pam Darnall, President/CEO, Family & Children's Place

  • There is a lot of communication right now state wide that the Kentucky Nonprofit Network is encouraging in their advocacy work encouraging human service provides to communicate now with their respective school districts to ask schools to partner with existing service providers to have needed mental health services for students; these partnerships can make the services more readily available to students, as opposed to schools having the additional challenge of hiring, overseeing mental  health staff.  Some organizations in Jefferson County already partner in certain schools to provide mental  health services as often pay sources such as Victim of Crime Act funding already supports mental health services (within its requirements) and the additional federal funding coming into the school systems across KY could also help support this work through partnerships with existing service providers.

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