OCMH April 2024 Newsletter

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OCMH April 2024 Newsletter

OCMH's Newest Fact Sheet: School Shootings and Youth Mental Health

Fact Sheet

School shootings have a traumatic effect not only on the children in the school, but also their teachers, families, and community as a whole. This trauma can cause long-term harm to youth mental health and well-being.

Research on youth survivors of shootings finds that children experience lasting physical and mental trauma. Children who survive shootings have twice as many pain disorders, are 68% more likely to have a psychiatric diagnosis, and are 144% as likely to develop a substance use disorder than those who did not experience a shooting. Anxiety, depression, and PTSD along with hypervigilance and fear are common mental health conditions of shooting survivors. Additionally, research found that teen survivors engage in more risky behavior.

What helps

School belonging – Students who feel they belong at their school, who are connected to peers and adults in the school, feel safe and welcomed. School cultures that are welcoming, inclusive, and positive with strong anti-bullying programs tend to have better school belonging and fewer isolated students.

Safe storage – Secure storage of firearms saves lives. Keeping guns locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition—whether in the home or at a storage facility—is associated with a lower risk of firearm injuries. Safe storage also reduces the risk of youth taking their parent’s weapons out of the home, lowering the risk of gun violence and suicide.

School safety drills – Lockdowns and safety drills are important components of safety planning. Drills must be carefully implemented and meet the needs of all students. Non-sensorial drills, such as a typical fire drill in which staff and students practice where and when to exit the building, are a recommended practice as they build knowledge of how to respond to an event in a calm manner.

Read the complete Fact Sheet here.

Lived Experience Insights


OCMH Lived Experience Partner Young Adult Emma McGovern shares their thoughts on school shootings.

It feels very “normal” that our whole world is very life or death. School shootings reinforce the feelings of hopelessness about the state of the United States and makes it feel hopeless to want to do anything, cause what's the point when one person with a crappy gun safe can get me and all my friends killed?

Adults got us here in the first place. Why should I listen to you? There is no feeling of value in your life advice or future plans when this is the present you created for us.

Children's Mental Health Week - May 5-11, 2024

CMH Collage

Plan now to support children’s mental wellness and health during Children’s Mental Health Week May 5-11, 2024. OCMH will have resources and ideas available on our website on April 29th.  Look forward to learning coping strategies youth have identified, accessing our Children’s Mental Health Week Toolkit (including a proclamation from Gov. Evers, children’s mental health data, and a press release all ready for you to personalize), an individual seven-day action plan, and a library of social media posts.

Mental Health America is celebrating May as Mental Health Month. Their theme is “Where to Start – Mental Health in a Changing World,” and they have a Mental Health Month Toolkit available for download.

Healing Centered Engagement - Encourage Young People to Dream and Imagine

Healing Centered Engagement

We are creating space in our newsletter to examine Healing Centered Engagement – a new approach to understanding youth and the issues they face. It is a holistic approach and differs from a trauma-informed care approach by shifting away from asking “what happened to you” to “what’s right with you. To learn more about Healing Centered Engagement see our February newsletter where we introduced this topic (article title: Trauma-Informed Care vs. Healing Centered Engagement, about half way through the February newsletter).

In this month’s newsletter we stress the importance of encouraging young people to dream and imagine.

By encouraging young people to envision what they want to become and who they want to be, we can help their cognitive and social-emotional competence and strengthen their future goal orientation. Ways to encourage youth to dream and imagine include:

  • Create activities for young people to play, reimagine, design, and envision their lives.
  • Regularly engage young people in positive discussions about their future.
  • Build opportunities for goal setting. Planning for the future can be intimidating, so help young people to practice setting big and little goals, for the near and distant future. As young people begin to act on and achieve these goals, they build pride, self-worth, and confidence in their own agency.
  • Create opportunities for young people to identify their own assets. Explicitly call attention to and draw on their assets during individual and group interactions.

Make sure to check back next month for another part in this series on Healing Centered Engagement.

Source: "Healing Centered Engagement supports not only young people, but adult providers with their own healing." by Dr. Shawn Ginwright, CEO, Flourish Agenda

OCMH Updates

April Convening

April Social Connectedness of Youth Convening – School Belonging and Children’s Mental Health

Students who are connected to and feel they belong at their school have better mental health.

Join us as we bring people from across the state to share ideas and discuss school belonging and children's well-being.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024 • 12-1:15 pm • Virtual

Register here

What you can expect in the April Convening:

  • Learn about the data on the importance of school belonging.
  • Hear from the Eau Claire County Youth Health Equity Collaborative on their community-wide focus on school belonging.
  • Learn from others. In small group discussions you'll hear from others what they are seeing and doing in their communities regarding school belonging. Come ready to share!
  • Meet others and network.

This will be the fourth convening in our five-part series, and the response has been very positive. Attendees love the small group discussions and hearing what others across the state are doing to support youth.

These Convenings are open to people and organizations in Wisconsin interested in children's mental health. Feel free to share our flyer on the April Convening.


Showcasing Solutions – Focus on School Belonging

Each month OCMH shares a story of great work being done in children’s mental health across our state. This month, we focus on the Eau Claire County Youth Health Equity Collaborative (guests speakers at our April Convening, see above) and their focus on school belonging. Read their story.

School MH

OCMH Mental Wellness Student Leadership Summit Convenes nearly 400 

What a day it was on April 12th when nearly 400 people from 46 schools across our state convened in Madison to learn more about supporting student mental wellness. School-based peer-led wellness programs participating included NAMI Raise Your Voice Club, Hope Squad, Sources of Strength, REDgen, and other student-led programs. Partners in planning the event included Mental Health America of Wisconsin and Safer Communities Dane County.

Legislative & Policy Update

The Legislature ended its regular session in March and sent bills to the Governor for signing. Among the bills that didn’t make it to the Governor’s desk was a bipartisan proposal to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income mothers for up to a year postpartum (SB 110 / AB 114) that passed the Senate almost unanimously, receiving only one no-vote. The bill also had bipartisan support in the Assembly, but was never brought to the Assembly floor for a vote.  Outside of Wisconsin, this policy has been adopted in 46 other states and Washington, D.C.  Good health for mothers post-partum is key to their ability to bond with their child and foster good early brain development.

Gov. Tony Evers vetoed two bills that did make it to his desk. One would have prohibited gender transition medical intervention for individuals under age 18 (AB 465 / SB 480). The second was the “parental bill of rights” which would have established 16 rights for parents, related to a child’s religion, medical care and records, and education. This bill included a parent right to determine the name and pronouns their children use at school. Children whose preferred pronouns are used are 50% less likely to attempt suicide. (AB 510 / SB 489)

The Governor signed into law two bills that will increase access to mental health treatment for children and adults:

Crisis Now / Crisis Stabilization Centers. The Centers are intended to address access to crisis services without a hospital emergency room visit or a transfer to Winnebago Mental Health Institute. The Centers will operate on a 24/7 basis; provide assessments for physical health, substance use crisis, and mental health; provide screens for suicide and violence risk; offer a first responder drop-off area; incorporate both short-term and more intensive support beds for stabilization; provide care in a calm home-like environment; have specifically trained staff in mental health and substance use; and coordinate follow-up community-based care. The Centers will accept patients on both a voluntary or walk-in basis, accept emergency detentions, accept youth and adults, and provide care in a secure setting. 2023 Wisconsin Act 249 (SB 462).

Virtual Behavioral Health Crisis Care Services. The Department of Health Services (DHS) is directed to establish a pilot program to implement virtual behavioral health crisis care services for use by county or municipal law enforcement agencies in the field to connect law enforcement officers who encounter persons in crisis to behavioral healthcare services. A private entity must be contracted to provide virtual behavioral health crisis care services, including related equipment and training, that provide law enforcement officers with remote access via two-way audio/video communication to behavioral healthcare expertise and decision-making support. DHS must identify counties and municipalities to participate in the pilot program to use the contracted services. To be eligible to participate in the pilot program a county or municipality must pay 30 percent of the cost for the equipment and services. 2023 Wisconsin Act 219 (AB573)

Of Interest

April is Minority Health Month

Minority Health Month is a time to raise awareness about health disparities that affect racial and ethnic minority populations. “Be the Source for Better Health: Improving Health Outcomes Through Our Cultures, Communities, and Connections,” is the 2024 theme and encourages understanding of how the unique environments, cultures, histories, and circumstances (social determinants of health) of racial and ethnic minority and AI/AN populations impact their overall health. Learn more.


April is Family Strengthening Month

April provides an opportunity to focus on strengthening families. The mission is to focus on the strengths families can draw on to build a safe and nurturing family environment. The Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board has a number of resources on their website to help organizations in supporting family strengthening in April, including the 2024 Family Strengthening Month toolkit and social media posting calendar.


April is Stress Awareness Month

Stress has negative impacts on our health and April provides an opportunity to focus on that. Managing stress is an essential part of a health lifestyle. Learn more:



988 Improvement Grant Opportunities

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services Division of Care and Treatment Services is seeking applications for projects that improve care for individuals who contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and need additional support. For more information. Applications are due May 14, 2024.

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Loaning someone your strength instead of reminding

them of their weakness.

Self care