OCMH November 2023 Newsletter

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OCMH Newsletter

OCMH 2024 Convenings on Social Connectedness of Youth

Social Connectedness of Youth

OCMH’s strategic focus on Social Connectedness of Youth will step into a new phase in 2024. Connecting the five categories of Social Connectedness of Youth to community action will be the focus.

OCMH has identified five key data points covering each of the five categories and will hold a convening for each. Each convening will dig into the data point in that category, stressing its significance in youth mental health and wellness. Additionally, the convenings will create space for participants to share positive programs and outcomes occurring in their areas and then lean into what else could be done. The goal is to get communities talking about these important topics and inspiring action at a local level.

The data points and scheduled convening dates are:

  • Family
    • Data: Family shares ideas and talks about things that really matter
    • Convening date: January 17, 2024
  • Cultural Identity/Community
    • Data: Participation in activities
    • Convening date: February 28, 2024
  • Supportive Adult
    • Data: Supportive adult besides parent
    • Convening date: March 20, 2024
  • School/Early Education
    • Data: School belonging
    • Convening date: April 24, 2024
  • Peer
    • Data: Making and keeping friends/difficulty with friendships
    • Convening date: June 19, 2024

Understanding the categories are broad and include a variety of important aspects, OCMH may address additional data points in each of the categories.

The convenings will take place from 12:00-1:15 pm and be open to anyone across the state interested in the topic. 

Look for an invitation to the January convening in December.

LEP Insights

Crystal Long

Helping our Children with Belonging and Acceptance

OCMH Lived Experience Partner Crystal Longs shares her insights on the challenges kids often face in belonging.

We know how important it is for our kids to feel like they belong, and, if we follow recent data, we know that school belonging is on the decline. We all hope our children feel a sense of belonging, but how do we help them when they may struggle with that?

There isn’t a simple answer as all young people are different and have their own unique abilities and desires to connect. A hard point for parents is our desire to help our kids when they can’t always put into words what they need or how they feel. Then, complicate that by the pressure we, as parents, put on ourselves to fix all things for our kids or worry about how we will be perceived if our kids are struggling.

Finding meaningful connections with family, peers, culture, and their communities is tough for most kids. As adults we know how important it is for personal connections, but for our children the bulk of connections for many is through electronics since real life can be messier than what they find online. After all, you can control your narrative by showing people what you want them to see when you are online.

I have come to realize that in order for my children to find who they were and are, I had to take a step back and focus on them – it is about their journey, and they need to do it for themselves. So, if that meant I had to endure ridicule from others because they didn’t understand what my kids were doing, so be it. Giving them the opportunity to “figure it out” can be hard for parents, but the satisfaction our kids will gain is so good for their development.

The most important thing we can do is to be there and help our children when they need it – accept them for who they are, even if we don’t understand, and give them whatever tools we have to help them find themselves.

In a nutshell, my advice is simple: 1) Be open to differences, 2) Be there when needed, 3) Try your hardest to accept people for who they are, and 4) Help them feel like they belong.

OCMH Updates

Lived Experience Academy

Lived Experience Academy Training Opportunity – Implicit Bias

Parents, caregivers, and youth leaders from Wisconsin are invited to attend the Lived Experience Academy Implicit Bias training on Thursday, December 7, 2023, 6-8 pm. The training is virtual. You’ll learn:

  • How people subconsciously make decisions
  • How to assess and measure your unconscious bias
  • How to mitigate your bias in everyday life

The first 75 Youth and Parent Leaders who register and attend the full event will receive a $25 e-gift card for their participation.

Register here.

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


Strengthening Youth Mental Health in Wisconsin – Recording Available

OCMH’s Collective Impact Council focused on what we can do in Wisconsin to strengthen youth mental health in its final meeting of 2023 on November 3rd. The featured speaker was Jessica Kirchner, Policy Analyst, Children and Families at the National Governor’s Association (NGA), who explained the NGA’s Strengthening Youth Mental Health Governor’s Playbook. The Playbook is intended to serve as a tool for states to further impactful policy solutions that strengthen youth mental health. Watch her discussion on the Playbook with Collective Impact Council Co-chair Monica Caldwell.


Andrea and LeRoy Butler

OCMH Staff Discuss Children’s Mental Health with LeRoy Butler

OCMH’s own Andrea Turtenwald, Family Relations Coordinator, chatted with LeRoy Butler, former Green Bay Packer and Pro Football Hall of Famer, about the importance of children’s mental health. Butler coordinated the “Leap Into Wellness – Youth Mental Health Summit” that was held in Milwaukee October 28th. The event brought together mental health professionals and resources from across the state in a partnership effort to address the alarming health issues of young people.


Looking Ahead to OCMH’s 2023 Annual Report

Each year OCMH publishes a report sharing children’s mental health accomplishments, issues, and data. Once again, OCMH will hold an Annual Report Briefing event in January 2024. Look for more information on it in the December newsletter.

Legislative & Policy Update

This fall several legislative packages have been released around issues with a direct impact on the mental health and well-being of children in our state.  These include topics of tenant protection, voter registration, gun safety, mental health care, and health care access.

A stable home environment is an important factor for childhood development, and recently a tenant protection package was rolled out by members of the legislature.  The 17 bills proposed would assist with landlord/tenant and eviction processes to ensure families do not face homelessness for minor concerns or issues beyond their control.  They would also address discrimination, inspections, and housing-related court matters.

As the needs of children and families are best served by a government that is responsive to their needs, another recently introduced series of proposals would focus on voter registration and turnout.  One proposal would allow an individual who will be 18 years old before the next election to complete a voter registration form at school that would allow for automatic registration upon their 18th birthday (LRB 3075).  These voter registration bills are geared at reducing hurdles and burdens that make it difficult for parents and those involved in childcare to make their voice heard.

A third package is geared toward firearms safety and protecting against gun violence.  These bills include common sense ideas such as child-safe storage of firearms and a 48-hour 'cool off' waiting period for the purchase of a handgun.  

Mental health care is the focus of a fourth package with bills that would provide mental health training for teachers and invest in additional and improved mental and behavioral health services for the University of Wisconsin System.

A health care package would increase access to health care for childless adults and address prescription drug costs through establishment of an affordability board that would scrutinize prescription drug prices and assist in controlling excessive price increases.  Medication costs create financial hardships for many families.

AB 465 / SB 480. Prohibits gender transition medical intervention for individuals under 18 years of age. Passed by both the Assembly and the Senate.

AB 510  / SB 489. Delineates 16 parent rights, including: the right to determine the names and pronouns used for the child while at school and the right to review instructional materials.  On November 8, the Assembly Committee on Family Law held a hearing on AB 510.

 AB 575 / SB 620. Requires the Department of Public Instruction to provide training on three evidence-based mental health programs: 1) The Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment program, 2) Trauma Sensitive Schools, and 3) Youth Mental Health First Aid.  On November 8, the Assembly Education Committee recommended passage of AB 575 on a vote of 11 to 3.

AB 576 / SB 621. Requires the Department of Justice to establish criteria and training requirements for peer support teams and critical incident stress management (CISM) services teams.  On November 9, the Assembly Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse Prevention recommended passage by a vote of 11 to 1.

LRB-0268.  A bill to Raise the Age of juvenile court jurisdiction from age 17 to age 18 has been circulated for sponsorship.  Alabama and Texas are the only other states that send 17-year-olds to the adult correctional system.

Children's Mental Health in the News

Data icon

The monthly list of recent articles, resources, and research findings impacting youth mental health prepared by OCMH Senior Research Analyst Amy Marsman has transitioned to its own email newsletter. So, if you have enjoyed reading this in the OCMH Newsletter, make sure to sign up for OCMH’s Research News in Youth Mental Health. Sign up here.

See the first issue here.

Of Interest

November is Native American Heritage Month

November marks a time to celebrate the traditions, languages, and stories of Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and affiliated Island communities and ensure their rich histories and contributions continue to thrive with each passing generation. It provides a time to learn, grow, engage, and support the amplification of Native voices. Learn more.


November 12-18 is Social Isolation and Loneliness Awareness Week

Loneliness and social isolation have serious physical and mental health implications in older adults and people with disabilities. The Wisconsin Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness offers resources for professionals. Learn more about isolation and loneliness.

People of all ages and backgrounds can experience loneliness and social isolation. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s advisory on loneliness and isolation titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation 2023,” calls on the country to treat the matter with the same urgency as other serious conditions such as obesity or drug abuse. The advisory points out the loneliness epidemic is hitting young people ages 15 to 24 especially hard. Read more.


Resource for Families of Children with Special Health Care Needs

Wisconsin Wayfinder: Children’s Resource Network is a new support structure for families of children with delays, disabilities, special health care needs or mental health conditions. It provides a user-friendly website and toll-free helpline (877.947.2929) that lets families connect with real people who will help them navigate through the essential services and supports that are intended to enable their children to thrive.


Office of School Safety Director Visits Site of Parkland School Shooting

Wisconsin Director of the Office of School Safety, Trish Kilpin, was invited to walk through the site at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High where a murderer broke into the school and shot 34 people in 2017. The crime scene has sat preserved since the shooting, and the building will be demolished at the end of this school year. Kilpin will use what she witnessed firsthand to better advocate for the Office of School Safety and the services it provides for years to come. Read more.  


UW – Milwaukee – Black Autistic Youth Agency Project

UW – Milwaukee requests participation in a research study about ways to increase positive interactions between Black families and their autistic youth and law enforcement. To learn this information they will conduct interviews with parents of children aged 12 or older with autism and their child. The research will be used to develop an educational program for parents, children, and law enforcement. Learn more or schedule an appointment.


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