One of the more ironic aspects of the protracted debate about what defines mental health reform is the discussion of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). Over the past few years, in stump speeches and editorials too numerous to count, the term AOT has become synonymous with mental health reform.
The mental and emotional well-being of our children affects all of us as parents, and if we continue to remain behind the eight ball on this issue, our kids and our society will continue to pay a steep price.
How do we bolster positive mental health in young children and ensure that challenges are detected early? The key is to integrate mental health prevention services into the settings where children spend their time -- at home, child care or the doctor's office.
We can support young families as they master that critical dance of development. Or we can wait to address the mental health problems of older children and adults down the road, which is not only draining for them, but also expensive for society.
This is an important month -- mental health plays a vital role in our identities. Our mental well-being is probably the most difficult muscle to exercise. One thing I do know is that it's never, never too late to practice, teach and learn.
On Feb. 12, California Attorney General Kamala Harris held a press conference in Los Angeles to announce the creation of a "Bureau of Children's Justice" with goals ranging from reducing truancy and combatting "childhood trauma" to improving the foster care and juvenile justice systems.
In the past, there would be few options left for kids like Kevin. He would have continued to bounce from one foster setting to another without much chance of getting better. Not only would he never have the love and stability of a family, but he would likely spend much of his life in jail.
It doesn't really take a letter to tell kids they are overweight. They know this, and so do their parents. If the goal is trying to help families make real changes, a letter home stating a child's BMI is not really going to do anything.
Awareness! And Awareness is what we have been focusing on this past month, as President Obama signed a proclamation declaring May as National Mental Health Awareness Month (the first president to do so!)
Last year Children's Law Center published a plan with practical recommendations to improve the children's mental health system in the District. Today, Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, we are releasing a report card that assesses progress in the areas outlined in our plan.