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NASW co-sponsors national summit on children’s mental health

By Paul R. Pace, News staff

NASW was an organizational co-sponsor of the second national summit on young children’s mental health, which was held in May.

The event, called “Healthy Development: Changing Frames and Expanding Partnerships to Promote Children’s Mental Health and Social/Emotional Wellbeing,” brought together 65 participants from different disciplines who built on the recommendations of the first summit — held in 2009 — to improve child mental health outcomes.

Richard Barth, professor and dean at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, talks with another attendee of the second national summit on young children’s mental health.

“Many points (discussed at the summit) emphasized serving children and families where they are, using platforms that are already available in communities and taking advantage of public policy initiatives in early education, school mental health and health care reform,” said Mary Ann McCabe, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine and affiliate faculty in psychology at George Mason University.

McCabe served as chairwoman of the summit’s planning group and she is chairwoman of the Interdivisional Task Force on Child Mental Health for the American Psychological Association.

She said today’s policy landscape calls for enhanced collaboration among stakeholders to improve public understanding, and investment to promote child mental health.

At the 2009 summit, scholars decided what research was the most important for the public and policymakers to understand.

The first summit report is available at: www.apa.org/pi/families/summit-report.aspx

The recent gathering “focused on using what we know to inform what we do and aimed to enhance effective collaboration and shared framing about the importance of child mental health for healthy development,” McCabe said.

Social workers were well represented at the May meeting.

Among them was Richard Barth, professor and dean at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

A key focus of the meeting included finding ways to better integrate children’s mental health with child welfare programs and initiatives, said Barth, who also served on the summit’s interdisciplinary planning group.

There is a major push by the White House for improvements to child welfare services and it is vital to include a children’s mental health component to those efforts, he said.

“It’s important to identify social work’s important role in these new opportunities,” Barth said. “We’ve been leaders in this field.”

Other social workers who attended include Dorinda Williams, director of military family projects at Zero to Three; Michelle Zabel, director and clinical instructor at the Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland; and Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of the NASW Foundation’s Social Work Policy Institute.

Summit participants identified next steps for collaboration across different sectors, which included practitioners, scholars, the public, policymakers, organizations and agencies.

McCabe said recommendations from the summit will be compiled in a report that is expected to be available later this year.

From the July 2013 NASW News

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