OCMH October 2023 Newsletter

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OCMH October 2023 Newsletter

Library Support of Youth Mental Health 

OCMH's Newest Fact Sheet

Public libraries can play an important role in supporting youth mental health. Libraries offer safe, welcoming, and inclusive environments that help youth connect to trusted adults; participate in activities that enrich learning outside of the classroom; and foster community connections, all of which promote positive mental health.

Researchers investigated the role that library workers play in connecting youth to digital mental health resources and found that libraries are a highly promising setting to implement digital mental health and reach adolescents, especially those who are underserved. Because libraries often serve as a community hub and are a trusted community resource, there is less stigma going to the library than walking into a treatment center. Library systems across the country are responding with novel youth mental health programming, including virtual reality tools that allow teens to examine their mental health and co-design solutions.

What We Can Do

Schools and Libraries

  • Cultivate a warm and welcoming environment that fosters belonging, offering a safe space for all children.
  • Educate staff on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma-informed care and build awareness of local mental health supports to assist youth in need.


  • Consider leveraging libraries as a service point for existing local, state, or federally funded mental health programs serving children, youth, and families.
  • Expand funding for libraries to address mental health within the library setting.


  • Consider co-locating mental health service providers at local libraries to improve access.
  • Create partnerships with local libraries to advertise and host wellness events.

Read the Fact Sheet and citations here

Lived Experience Insights

Nick Krisko

Nick Krisko is an OCMH Young Adult Lived Experience Partner and shares his insight on the potential libraries pose in communities. Nick recently completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Writing and Publishing with a minor in Creative Writing and works at a library.

Libraries are the last Third Place in the United States. In Sociology, they talk about First Place being home and the Second Place being work or school. The Third Place is for recreation and joy. Aside from libraries, there is nowhere else that is welcoming to people to spend time and socialize and not be expected to spend money.

Things that are part of youth culture according to the media – going to the mall, the park – those are not welcoming to youth anymore. They are putting in place anti-loitering rules. Stores have hours posted where people under 18 are not allowed in the store without adult supervision, or limiting the number of youth who can be in the store at one time. That really messes with the sense of community that a lot of youth don’t get at home. If you are not in an establishment serving alcohol, everything closes at 5 pm. If you are under 21, you can’t access that evening location, even if your intention is not to drink. There is no social space for teens or tweens – except libraries.

Younger children and teenagers both deserve spaces where they can play and just be. Play, whimsy, and joy only seems to be provided for kids 10 and under. Once you hit the early teens, you’re expected to be in the real world. It’s so damaging. Our brains learn best through play. How are we supposed to grow up and learn how the world works if the people around us are constantly telling us that we’re doing it wrong and that we aren’t welcome in community spaces?

Libraries are a safe place you can spend an unlimited amount of time, learn new things, socialize, create intergenerational friendships, spend time in your community, and access supports you might not get at school or home. It’s a place you can exist without being expected to do anything.

Nekita (Nick) Krisko, He/Him/His and They/Them/Theirs

2023 Lived Experience Academy Training Open for Registration

LEP Academy

Parents and young adults (16 – 26 years old) who have lived experience navigating systems like mental health, child welfare, youth justice, and more – you are invited to learn about how lived experts are helping to change those systems we’ve experienced.

Want to learn more? Join our free two-hour virtual event on Thursday, October 26, 2023 from 6-8 pm where you will hear about:

  • What is systems thinking?
  • How have Lived Experts changed systems in Wisconsin? 
  • Where can I make systems change?

The first 75 youth and parent leaders who register and attend the full event will receive a $25 e-gift card for their participation.

Please share this opportunity with other caregivers or young people interested in using their experience to help make a change!

Register here.  For more information contact: Andrea.Turtenwald@wi.gov or 608.445.0159.

OCMH Updates

Sign Up – OCMH’s New “Research News in Youth Mental Health”

Want to stay current on recent articles, resources, and research findings impacting youth mental health? Then make sure to sign up to receive OCMH’s “Research News in Youth Mental Health.” Prepared by OCMH Senior Research Analyst Amy Marsman, this must-read monthly email will be a stand-alone OCMH communication beginning in November.

If you have enjoyed reviewing our monthly list of important children’s mental health articles in the OCMH monthly newsletter, make sure to subscribe for the stand-alone email now. Click here to do that. If you aren’t already a GovDelivery subscriber you will need to establish a password in the system.

We encourage you to share this subscription link with others who may like to receive this great resource.


CIC Nov. 3 Invitation

Collective Impact Council’s November 3rd Meeting Open to All

You are invited to attend OCMH’s annual Collective Impact Council meeting – Friday, November 3, 2023, 10 am-12 pm via Zoom. The topic is Strengthening Youth Mental Health – What We Can do in Wisconsin. Governor Evers' declaration of 2023 as the Year of Mental Health provides a platform to elevate children’s mental health issues. Join us as we introduce ways to carry on the work to strengthen youth mental health in our state.

To attend:

  • All OCMH team and council members received a meeting invitation for this. Just accept the meeting invitation and you are set. You do not need to register.
  • If you are not on an OCMH team or council – simply register here for the meeting.
Social Connectedness of Youth


Social Connectedness of Youth Impact Teams Retire

OCMH’s Collective Impact Teams have done it – they developed strategic action plans on their goals (see our August newsletter) and their work is done. So, the teams have retired and their September meetings were their last. To carry forward work on their action plans, a small workgroup for each team has established. Each met in October to work on the action item their team selected from their Action Plans for OCMH to work on. That work is expected to continue into early 2024. See all four Action Plans in one document here. We encourage all organizations to review the Action Plans, look for opportunities where your work aligns, and implement appropriate actions. That is collective impact in action!


MH Lit

Mental Health Literacy Units of Instruction Reaches Global Audience

The Mental Health Literacy Units of Instruction are lesson plans that help educators teach the skills that students need to maintain their mental health and well-being. They also help students help their peers by showing them how to recognize and support others who may be struggling. The Units of Instruction are available for elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. 

The Units of Instruction have reached educators throughout the state, nation, and world. They have been downloaded by:

  • 1,130 Wisconsin teachers and administrators
  • 40 states in the U.S.
  • 10 countries outside the U.S. (Australia, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Kenya, Korea, Portugal, Tanzania, and the United Kingdom)

Helping our youth with their mental health at school makes sense. We are grateful to our partners across our state, country, and world who also recognize this and are acting to increase youth access to mental health supports.  

Legislative & Policy Updates

Gender Transition

SB 480 / AB465 – Prohibits gender transition medical intervention for individuals under 18 years of age.  On October 13, AB 465 passed the Assembly on a partisan vote and Senate passage was recommended by the Senate Committee on Health.  OCMH notes that numerous, respected national organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have issued position statements supporting gender-affirming care.  Research also shows that even just debating legislation on the prohibition of gender transition care can be detrimental to the mental health of many young people, especially LGBTQ+ youth. 

SB 479 – Allows a minor who is injured physically, psychologically, emotionally, or physiologically to bring a civil cause of action against the health care provider who performed a gender transition procedure.  This bill is currently in the Senate Committee on Health.

School Sports Participants

AB-377 / SB 378 Requires athletic sports and teams operated or sponsored by public schools or private schools participating in a parental choice program to be designated based on the sex of the participants. This bill that passed by the Assembly on October 12 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention, Children and Families.


Both the “Choices in Childcare” legislative package and Special Session SB-1 that includes Governor Evers’ Child Care Counts provisions on funding of childcare providers and an expansion of the family and medical leave provisions are pending in the Legislature.  This bill also includes an expansion of the Qualified Treatment Trainee grant program which is helping to increase children’s access to mental health treatment.

Since last month, the Assembly has passed the six childcare bills (AB 387, 388, 389, 390, 391, 392) we reported on in our September newsletter.  The Senate versions of these bills are in the Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention, Children and Families Committee awaiting action.  As noted in our last newsletter, several childcare policy experts have raised concerns that these proposals are not grounded in research, data, or best practice and that these changes could result in diminishing the childcare workforce and quality of care.   Groups tracking the proposed legislation anticipate facility closures and tuition increases if the policies are implemented.  Available, quality childcare is critical to children's mental health and later success in school, making changes to childcare regulation important to watch. 

Earned Income Tax Credit

SB-453 – Increases the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for families with one or two children.  This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Universities & Revenue.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has demonstrated that children in families receiving the EITC have fewer mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.

Mental Healthcare is Healthcare

LRB 3861 & LRB 3851 – These draft bills would address, respectively, social emotional learning training to address student mental health and funding for University of Wisconsin System student health services.  They are part of a rolling bill package proposed by Democratic Assembly and Senate members aimed at addressing the critical and urgent mental health needs of Wisconsinites.

Seclusion & Restraint

LRB 2162/1 and LRB-4644/1 – Allow seclusion and restraint if a pupil’s behavior presents a clear, present, and imminent risk of serious emotional distress for the pupil or others or if it creates a considerable disruption to a classroom or other learning environment.  Under current law, the pupil's behavior must present a clear, present, and imminent risk to the physical safety of the pupil or others. 

Task Force on Missing and Murdered African American Women and Girls

LRB -3661/1 – Creates a task force on missing and murdered African American women and girls. The task force, whose members must work in crime victims’ rights or violence protection, must examine various factors that contribute to violence against African American women and girls and recommend actions.  The task force must submit a report by December 15, 2024.  This draft bill is being circulated by a bipartisan group of legislators (Rep. Stubbs, Rep. Schraa, Sen. Johnson, Sen. James).

Voter Access & Education

A package of bills to promote voter registration has been drafted.  The bills address facilitating voter registration for several groups of individuals, including those who have their voting rights restored and applicants for public assistance.  Of particular interest for youth in Wisconsin are the bills that would allow a person to register to vote when applying for a driver’s license (LRB 0099) and voter pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds (LRB-3093/1 & LRB-4594/1).  This bill package has been proposed by Democratic Assembly and Senate members.

Continuous Coverage for Children on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to state health officials on September 29 reinforcing that states must provide 12 months of continuous coverage for children under the age of 19 on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beginning January 1, 2024. More.

*Note on LRB Drafts: The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) prepares all legislation for the WI Legislature.  Before a bill has been assigned to a committee and given a bill number, it can be identified by the LRB draft number.


Children's Mental Health in the News


OCMH Senior Research Analyst Amy Marsman spotlights recent articles, resources, and research findings impacting youth mental health.

Reports to Wisconsin's school safety tip line nearly doubled during last school year (Report)

Since its launch in 2020, Wisconsin's school safety tip line – Speak Up, Speak Out (SUSO) – has received over 7,500 reports according to the recent Office of School Safety release. Nearly half of those reports were made last school year. SUSO is a confidential tip line that allows students to forward concerns about safety of themselves and others at school. Those concerns cover a wide range of issues including threats of violence, drug use, and threats of suicide and self-harm. Nearly 30% of tips were to report bullying.

County Level Social Connection Data Available Partners with the Foundation for Social Connection released an Action Guide for Building Socially Connected Communities. The Action Guide includes a data dashboard profiling a number of measures related to social connectedness and social cohesion. The dashboard has data available for every county in the U.S. and allows users to compare county scores to the state or nation. Measures include frequent social associations, social capital, mental distress, vehicle and transit access, libraries, and volunteering.  

New, Peer-Reviewed Study Shows Transformative Impact of Reach Out and Read (Article)

A multi-year study demonstrates that the delivery of Reach Out and Read effectively encourages parents/caregivers to read with their young children using strategies that promote parent-child bonding and connection. This study builds upon earlier evidence that shows families who participate in the Reach Out and Read program are more likely to have books in the household and read them to their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers multiple times each week. In addition, those young children have improved language development by three to six months. One of Reach Out and Read’s clinician partners said, “This new research provides additional evidence that Reach Out and Read’s methods can change parent and caregiver behavior and increase high-frequency reading, which helps build safe, stable, and nurturing relationships.”

Child Psychiatry Consultation Data Show Growing Program

The Wisconsin Child Psychiatry Consultation Program (CPCP) provides consultation, education, and referral support to enrolled primary care providers. These providers typically care for kids and teens with behavioral health concerns. According to the Department of Health Services, the CPCP increased the number of consults to providers as well as the number of providers who joined the Wisconsin CPCP this year compared to last year. The consultation team helps answer questions pertaining to pediatric mental health and helps coordinate referrals and resources within local communities.

5 Million More Children Experienced Poverty in 2022 than in 2021, Following Expiration of COVID-era Economic Relief (Article)

The rate of child poverty in the United States has more than doubled, from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022, according to newly released data from the Census Bureau, translating to 5.2 million more children living in poverty than in 2021. This increase follows the expiration of most of the COVID-era programs that resulted in unprecedented reductions in child poverty. The new Census data highlight the critical role of pandemic-era social safety net expansions in the dramatic decrease in child poverty rates in 2020 and 2021. Despite high rates of unemployment during the pandemic, child poverty declined by 25% in 2020 and by nearly 50% in 2021, largely thanks to stimulus payments and temporary expansions to government programs such as the Child Tax Credit, Unemployment Insurance, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), among others. The expiration of these programs reverses the progress of the last two years despite it being firmly established that poverty and chronic financial stress harms children’s physical and mental health.

Depression screening may help identify suicide risk (Story)

Researchers started studying patient screening methods at primary care clinics. They believed traditional screening for suicidal thoughts would be most effective at identifying which patients were most likely to attempt suicide – but instead found that screening for depression correctly identified more patients who would go on to attempt suicide than traditional suicide screening. Researchers said, “Primary care healthcare providers should really be focusing on identifying patients who have depression and that might serve as a gateway for determining who might need additional treatment in intervention and prevent suicide.” This study involved military primary care clinics, and researchers would like to research civilians in other healthcare settings to see if their findings are replicated.

Acceptance from Adults Linked with Lower Rates of Suicide Attempts Among LGBTQ Youth (Brief)

The Trevor Project updated and summarized research on supportive adults and LGBTQ youth. They found that LGBTQ young people who had accepting adults in their lives reported significantly lower odds of attempting suicide compared to those who did not. Related, LGBTQ middle and high school students with access to at least one school-related protective factor had 26% lower odds of attempting suicide in the past year. The research asked about access to a gender-neutral bathroom; history that includes LGBTQ people; access to a Gay-Straight Alliance; and whether teachers respect their pronouns.

Growing use of 988 crisis lifeline – and now offers American Sign Language. (Story)

Amidst the increase in number of suicides in Wisconsin and across the nation, the 988 crisis lifeline now has an accommodation for those that need it: ASL interpreters. The Department of Health Services reports in the first year after being launched the 988 Wisconsin Lifeline received nearly 92,000 contacts for support through calls, texts, and online chats.

Self-Harm Data Dashboard Now Available (Link)

This new Department of Health Services data dashboard provides information for health and human services professionals on self-harm throughout the state, intended for use in their injury and violence prevention efforts. Self-harm refers to intentional actions taken to hurt oneself. The dashboard focuses on non-fatal instances that result in an emergency department visit or hospitalization and includes an acknowledgment and discussion of disparities and inequities in self-harm injury outcomes. Data from the dashboard can also be used to detect populations at greater risk. Data from 2018–2021 is displayed, and the tool will be updated as new data become available.

Inaugural Maternal Mental Health State Report Cards (2023 Report Card)

The Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health released 2023 Maternal Mental Health State Report Cards. The report cards evaluate states across three domains: providers and programs, screening requirements and reimbursements, and insurance coverage and payment. Wisconsin received a D, as did the nation as a whole.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Outcomes Are Declining Despite Continued Improvements in Well-being Indicators (Article) Recent data have revealed dramatic and troubling declines in the mental well-being of children and adolescents over the past decade. However, social indicators of well-being—including housing, income, and food stability; access to education and health care; and high-quality relationships—have improved over the same period. In a new Child Trends brief, the authors argue that policies that focus on improving these social indicators, while important, may not be as effective as previously thought at directly addressing young people’s mental health needs. The authors suggest that by expanding the scope of data that track child and adolescent well-being, policymakers can design more effective and equitable solutions that support children and adolescents’ mental health.

Of Interest

Peer Crisis Survey

If you identify as a peer, the Division of Care and Treatment Services (DCTS) invites you to share your expertise in a 30-question survey. The survey takes approximately 15 minutes and will help DCTS learn more about how peers are currently working in crisis services systems. Take the survey.  

Governor Evers’ Proclamation on Afterschool Programs

Acknowledging that quality afterschool programs provide safe and engaging learning experiences that help students develop social, emotional, physical, and academic skills and realize their full potential, Governor Evers issued a proclamation declaring October 26, 2023 as Lights on Afterschool Day in Wisconsin. Learn more about afterschool programing and Lights on Afterschool here.

October is Head Start Awareness Month

October provides an opportunity to celebrate the mission of Head Start to promote school readiness of young children from at-risk backgrounds by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development. Learn more.

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

October provides an opportunity to reflect on the classroom and school culture and assess the extent to which bullying is part of that culture. It is a time to examine best practices when it comes to creating respectful school environments that foster inclusion and respect. Learn more: Anti-defamation League, Stomp Out Bullying.

October is ADHD Awareness Month

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic, life-long disorder with common comorbidities that impacts girls and boys equally and has an interplay with anxiety, mood disorders, and learning disabilities. Learn more. Learn more about the evolution of ADHD. Read about the ADHD medication shortage and tips for getting what your child needs.

AHW Grant – Community-Led Momentum Grants

Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment (AHW) announced grant funding for eligible community-based organizations in Wisconsin to implement new public and community health strategies, develop innovative programs and resources to advance Wisconsin’s current or future health workforce, and carry out novel efforts to inform policy and practice to advance health and health equity in Wisconsin. Grants up to $250,000. Funded projects must be completed during a 24-month period beginning on July 1, 2024. Letters of intent to apply for AHW Momentum Grants are due on Oct. 30, 2023. Learn more.

Mental Health Resources Available in Spanish

Mental Health America has new resources available in Spanish:

NAMI Support Groups and New Teen & Young Adult HelpLine

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) conveys the power of coming together in community, which can be healing as people gather, to share their experience. Learn more about peer support groups and the new NAMI Teen & Youth Adult HelpLine.

Looking Ahead – November 12-18th is Social Isolation and Loneliness Awareness Week

As declared by the U.S. Surgeon General, social isolation and loneliness is a public health crisis with over half of all Americans experiencing measurable levels of loneliness. Watch for more information in our November newsletter.


Below we share a tip sheet related to culturally sensitive language/responses.

Being Called In - Out

Team Updates

Collective Impact

Advisory Council

The next quarterly meeting of the Advisory Council will be Friday, October 20, 2023.

Collective Impact Council

The next quarterly meeting of the Collective Impact Council will be Friday, November 3, 2023. The meeting topic is Strengthening Youth Mental Health – What We Can do in Wisconsin. See above announcement in OCMH Updates.

Social Connectedness of Youth Teams

OCMH Social Connectedness of Youth Teams (Cultural Identity/Community, Family, and Supportive Adult) had their final meetings in September. See above article in OCMH Updates.