Introducing the “You Matter” Campaign for Young Adults in Emotional Distress or Suicidal Crisis
SAMHSA is proud to announce a new online campaign to promote the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, You Matter. The campaign focuses on the positive message that the lives of young adults matter, even as they face trying times or difficult problems.
Through a blog and social media, You Matter aims to build awareness and trust in the Lifeline among young adults by providing a safe, online space where they can connect with the Lifeline. The campaign showcases hopeful peer-to-peer messages and also supports friends of young adults who are in distress or crisis, providing them with resources to help. Ultimately, You Matter’s goal is to persuade young adults in emotional distress or suicidal crisis to contact the Lifeline for help by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or chatting online.
You Matter includes a website with important information on Lifeline services, how to get help, and warning signs of emotional distress and suicide. The website includes a blog with posts about specific issues that many young adults deal with, such as losing a job or moving back home, and advice on how to deal with stress and life changes. The campaign already has an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Idaho Screening for Mental Health, Substance Abuse Problems in Juvenile Justice System
As many in the juvenile justice community sadly know, a focus on diagnosing and treating mental health and substance abuse problems in detained juveniles developed relatively late nationally. This is particularly true in the State of Idaho, which did not have systematic, routine mental health and substance abuse screening occurring in its 12 juvenile detention centers (JDCs) until 2008. Since the inception of the Clinical Services Program (CSP), a collaborative effort funded by the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho has made dramatic strides in screening for mental health and substance abuse problems in juveniles entering its JDCs, and recommending and (and sometimes coordinating) treatment for these juveniles upon their return to their communities.
Starting in 2008, my colleagues and I at Boise State University’s Center for Health Policy have performed annual, multimodal assessments of the CSP. One of the main components of our evaluation has involved documenting the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse problems. What we’ve found is that juveniles entering Idaho’s JDCs should be considered to have at least one of these types of problems unless demonstrated otherwise; in other words, having a mental health or substance abuse problem, or both types of problems, is the rule rather than the exception to it.
Washington’s Struggles to Treat Mentally Ill Youth Reflective Of National Dilemma
Reports show many youth in Washington D.C. under the Medicaid umbrella are being left behind as their mental health disorders go untreated, leaving them at high risk for a run-in with the juvenile justice system.
In the nation’s capital, Medicaid covers at least 18,629 youth who are in need of mental health care treatment, according to the Justice Policy Institute. More than half are not receiving help, as stigma and an ineffective treatment system stand in the way of children receiving care, the group found.
But catching a problem early and treating it is crucial because children with untreated mental illnesses are at a higher risk for teenage pregnancy, poverty, poor performance in school, and none to intermittent employment. All of these factors weigh into the equation of children winding up in a justice system that research shows only worsens the cycle.
The problem, which is widespread in many urban areas including Chicago, is prevalent in D.C. because of the location of the RTCs – or residential treatment centers, which are sometimes hundreds of miles away – meaning parents can be separated from their children, with no visits, for months at a time, according to some experts.
The Importance of Addressing Mental Health Early
The impact of the tragedy in Colorado is felt across the Aurora community, the U.S. and the world. Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, first responders, psychologists, specialized agencies and people with their own experience with severe trauma are affected. Regrettably, the large wave of people in need of help is yet to come. These tragic events act like rocks in a pond–rippling for miles and for a long time.
The circumstances surrounding the event are still under investigation, but as a clearer picture develops, some have begun framing the tragedy in terms of the debate over gun control. Others are simply calling for the person responsible for this terrible crime to be quickly brought to justice. Social services and mental health organizations are putting together relief efforts and resources for the victims of the shooting and providing crisis counseling to survivors. Among the valuable suggestions is ensuring people that their responses of fear, depression, anxiety, sadness that result in sleeplessness, weeping, anger, impatience, or sitting and staring are perfectly normal and expected.
Director Appointed to Office of Adolescent Health
Evelyn M. Kappeler was appointed Monday from "acting" to permanent Director of the Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health.
Ms. Kappeler was first appointed in 2010 by the Assistant Secretary for Health to build and lead -- in an acting capacity --the newly funded Office of Adolescent Health (OAH). She established the office and implemented its signature $110 million grant program aimed at reducing teen pregnancy through the replication of evidence-based program models and research and demonstration projects.
Ms. Kappeler convened the Health and Human Services-wide Adolescent Health Working Group, a first of its kind collaboration among the many agencies and offices with interest in ensuring the health of adolescents and young adults.
The group focuses on their shared interests in promoting healthy social, emotional and physical development during adolescence to help teens grow into productive, healthy adults and reaching adolescents who are most in need of integrated, coordinated services and care.
Promise Unfulfilled: Juvenile Justice in America
In partnership with several juvenile justice advocates around the country, Cathryn Crawford, a national expert in juvenile and criminal justice, has edited a new book entitled "Promise Unfulfilled: Juvenile Justice in America" (IDEA 2012).
Through a combination of original and reprinted articles written by academics, lawyers, and advocates, “Promise Unfulfilled” addresses the problems with designing and implementing effective systems to deal with children in conflict with the law, and it describes various challenges children in the juvenile justice system face and offers suggestions for reform.
The authors include James Bell, Founder and Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, who wrote on the over-incarceration of youth of color; Jacqueline Bullard, an appellate defender in Illinois, who wrote on best interest versus expressed interest representation of minors in delinquency court; and Neelum Arya (Barry Law, Campaign for Youth Justice) who wrote on state legislative victories from 2005-2010 in the area of removing youth from the adult criminal justice system. I have a chapter that is adapted from my article, Culture Clash: The Challenge of Lawyering Across Difference in Juvenile Court, 62 Rutgers L. Rev. 959 (2010). There are also chapters on the school-to-prison pipeline, addressing the mental health needs of juveniles, and best practices for working with girls in the delinquency system.
Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: Are We Making Progress in Reducing Mental Health Disparities?
July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This gives us an opportunity to pause and ask ourselves: are we making progress in meeting the mental health needs of our diverse racial and ethnic populations across the country. In terms of disparities for these populations, have we improved access to care? Have we improved the quality of care? And, as a result, are we seeing better mental health outcomes in terms of promotion of mental health and appropriate treatment and recovery outcomes? The National Health Disparities Report, issued annually by the Department of Health and Humans Services (DHHS), shows that on selected access and quality indicators –including mental health measures – health care for minority populations has not improved and for poor populations has markedly worsened. A 2012 analysis of a dataset of 30,000 youth found that “disparities in use of mental health services persist for Black and Latino children” with 10% of white youth using mental health care compared to 4-5% of Black and Latino youth. Money spent for mental health care for white children increased; however for Latino children it decreased significantly. Suicide rates for American Indians in the 15-39 year old age range continue to be two to three times higher than other population groups. Suicide ideation and suicide rates continue to increase with age in the Asian American population.
Help from a Counselor Just a Text Away
National Safe Place created TXT 4 HELP Interactive, which allows youth to text live with a mental health professional, based on research that says youth seeking help for difficult situations are more likely to look for information electronically than in person. Any youth can text the word "SAFE" and the address of their current location to 69866 and receive the address for the closest Safe Place site and a contact number for the local youth shelter. This automated response will now also prompt users to reply with "2CHAT" to be connected immediately to a mental health professional.
Teens with Mental Health Conditions More Likely to be Prescribed Long-Term Opioids for Chronic Pain
The Journal of Adolescent Health recently published a study in its June issue titled, Mental Health Disorders and Long-term Opioid Use Among Adolescents and Young Adults With Chronic Pain. This study concluded that adolescences and young adults with preexisting mental health conditions are 2.4 times more likely to be prescribed opioids over extended periods of time for chronic pain. The most common documented chronic pain complaints included back pain, neck pain, headache and arthritis or joint pain.
Researchers from Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington looked at 13 to 24 year-olds across the West, Midwest and Southwest United States to examine the association between long-term opioid use and mental health disorders. They found that older male youth who live in low-income communities with fewer residents who attended college, were even more likely to use opioids for extended periods.
Let's Give Kids Better Mental Health
“People are just not reaching us where we are at. We want to be reached.” – Washington, D.C. focus group youth participant.
The mental well-being of our youth is crucial to achieving progress and prosperity in our communities. In Washington, DC, youth face particular challenges as disparities in resources and risks vary drastically in just a matter of miles. I wrote JPI’s report, Mindful of the Consequences: Improving the Mental Health for DC’s Youth Benefits the District, to show that current prevention and treatment services do not match the level of need and many youth are at risk for contact with the justice system due to untreated mental problems. To illustrate this, I mapped where arrested youth are coming from: predominately areas of low income and high rates of risk factors that impact mental well-being.
The general attitude toward youth living in these areas (both with and without juvenile justice involvement) has been fear and blame. However, as I prepared to begin writing this report, I came across a few quotes gathered from a focus group with youth on the various challenges that come with growing up in D.C. These youth commented on what they needed…
“If they gave different programs to fit the criteria to why you were locked up, services that help you specifically, maybe even invest in psychologists.”
“Guidance and someone there they can look up to that is on the right path. Support other than tutoring, someone they can talk to sometimes if they have a problem.”