May forum kicks off Mental Health Month

Jennifer Ranji, secretary for the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, speaks during the May 1 forum. SOURCE SUBMITTED
May 2, 2013

The 19th annual Delaware Prevention and Behavioral Health Forum discussed building a system of care to support youth, families and communities.

The annual event, held May 1-2 in Dover, kicked off Mental Health Month. Officials talked about the latest theory and science, research findings, practical application, as well as innovative approaches and emerging trends in the field of child mental health.

Gov. Jack Markell presented a proclamation recognizing May as Mental Health Month and spoke about the importance of treatment and early intervention.

“Children and youth dealing with mental or behavioral health issues need the services and supports that will enable them to achieve their full potential," he said. "Suicides among youth are the most tragic child mental health problem in our state. We must close a gap in the care of our adolescents by providing mental health resources in our middle schools."

Markell said this investment ensures kids get services they need, and over the long term, helps Delaware build a better private network of child mental health providers.

Markell’s recommended budget for fiscal year 2014 includes a 10-fold increase in the number of trained, front-line behavioral health consultants in middle schools, and after-school and summer programming.

Workshops at the forum covered a variety of topics including practices surrounding trauma informed care, the impact of gang violence and gun control on communities, and the inclusion of spirituality in mental health practice.

Nearly one in five Delaware children, ages 2 to 17, have one or more emotional or behavioral health conditions, according to Kids Count data.

“Working with pediatricians, mental health practitioners, early care and education programs, families and other community partners, we can continue to strengthen our system of care, help remove the stigma associated with mental health issues for children, and put them on the pathway to a hopeful and fulfilling future,” said Jennifer Ranji, secretary for the Delaware Children’s Department.

The Children’s Department provides services to children who have been abused, neglected, are dependent, have mental health or substance abuse problems, have been adjudicated delinquent by the courts, as well as prevention services targeted toward all youth.

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