OCMH May 2024 Newsletter

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OCMH May 2024 Newsletter

Youth Share Mental Health Coping Strategies

coping strategies

“Breathe”, “Listen to music”, “Talk to a Friend.” These are just three of the coping strategies Wisconsin youth shared with OCMH on how they keep their mental health in check. Other strategies include: journal, talk to a friend, watch movies, and play a relaxing game. Although many of the strategies were listed repeatedly, many of the strategies were as unique as the young people sharing them. The take away is: Although there are common methods for young people to cope with the mental health challenges they face, each youth should identify the best strategies that work for them and then use them when times are tough. See a compilation of the seven strategies OCMH is showcasing. Individual strategies in flyer form are available in the OCMH Children’s Mental Health Week toolkit (scroll down the page mid-way to access).

Youth also shared their advice on mental health for other youth. Encouraging words ranged from “never give up”, “you are not alone”, and “ask for help”, to “communicate in person more than online.” See their insightful advice here.

OCMH also asked youth what they want adults to know about youth mental health. Here there is more of "just listen" and how adults should interpret what they see and hear from youth. See more of what they said here

The youth providing this feedback were attending the Mental Wellness Student Leadership Summit hosted by OCMH on April 12, 2024 in Madison. Nearly 400 people, including students and school staff, from 44 schools across Wisconsin attended.

Happy 10th Anniversary OCMH!

10th Anniv Logo

The Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health (OCMH) is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2024. Created in the 2013-15 State budget, the office got its start in 2014. OCMH’s charge is two-fold: 1) coordinate children’s mental health initiatives and improve integration across state agencies, and 2) establish and track children’s mental health data points to direct these efforts.

Through the end of 2024, OCMH is planning special anniversary celebration activities. Follow all of them on a special 10th Anniversary web page on OCMH’s website. Activities include:

  • OCMH Partner Reflection Quotes – each month different OCMH partners will share their reflections on OCMH. The first one features Michelle Buehl, Program Coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Corrections, and Phyllis Greenberger, Lead Advocacy Specialist – Disability Rights Wisconsin. See it here.
  • Children’s Mental Health Facts – beginning in June, OCMH Senior Research Analyst Amy Marsman will share a monthly children’s mental health fact. It will be posted on the 10th Anniversary web page and shared in the monthly OCMH Newsletter.
  • A special 10th Anniversary panel discussion on 10-year children’s mental health trends will be held in December. Watch for details as the date approaches.


May Show Sol

Dedicated Focus on Children’s Mental Health since 2014

OCMH’s history is the topic for our newest Showcasing Solutions – OCMH’s monthly story on great things happening in children’s mental health in Wisconsin. The importance of a central focus on children’s mental health and the initiatives OCMH has focused on over the years is shared. Check it out here.

OCMH Explores What to do While You Wait for Children's Mental Health Services


“Children’s Mental Health Crisis” – we’ve all seen the headlines and know that among our young people anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicidality are all up. Likewise, psychologists are reporting increased patient populations in children ages 11-25 (source). And those are the lucky ones who are able to see a mental health professional. Over half (56%) of providers say they have no openings for new patients. And, among those who keep waitlists (not all do), average wait times were 3-plus months and often longer for kids (source).

What We Know

There is limited research exploring waiting list interventions, however, the findings from small-scale studies are promising. Research has found that some providers offer wait list interventions – things families can do while their child is waiting for an appointment – and these interventions demonstrated improved clinical outcomes (source). While the studies found that interventions while kids wait can be effective, they also pointed out that excessive wait times can deter kids from actually getting into treatment and sticking with it. In fact, those who have a long wait are more likely to drop out of therapy when compared to those who did not have a long wait (source). And we know that half of Wisconsin youth with a diagnosed mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, or behavioral problems, receive no treatment (source).

What We Can Do

OCMH convened a panel discussion on “what to do while you wait for children’s mental health services” at its May 3rd Collective Impact Council meeting. Panelists included a pediatrician, mental health therapist, school-based mental health professional, and a lived experience parent. They offered the following ideas while families wait for mental health services:

  • At the doctor’s office
    • Doctors start with the basics – is the child getting enough sleep, eating well, going to school and then try to reset good behaviors.
    • Screeners might identify things kids aren’t sharing. Some kids talk about mental health, some don’t.
    • If you think your doctor is not understanding you, say “I’m not sure you are hearing me.”
    • Schedule more time with the doctor and/or consider a parent-only appointment with the doctor. Maybe contact the doctor in different ways, like an electronic message.
    • Send pictures or videos that demonstrate your child’s issues.
  • For therapeutic options
    • Is there a therapy group your child could join? Ask your therapist if they know of any. Search other therapists’ websites or social media.
    • Ask your therapist for resources – podcasts, books, etc.
    • Parents’ employer/s may have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
    • Is telehealth an option?
  • At your school
    • Are there school-based mental health services or resources at your school?
    • Actively communicate with school staff – your child’s teacher, counselor, office staff, etc. Let them know what to expect with your child.
    • Find a teacher, school staff, or someone who really understands your child and will advocate for them, possibly even be their supportive adult.
    • Can a school mental health therapist suggest a therapy group or parent support activities?
  • What families can do at home
    • Search for online support groups. Actively seek out people who will understand your situation.
    • Could a parent coach help?
    • Sometimes you need to closely monitor your child.
    • Parents should monitor their own regulation and know when they need to self-regulate.
    • Practice self-care.
    • Parents remember to enjoy your child and being a parent to this special young person.

Healing Centered Engagement - Act with Love and Caring

Healing Centered Engagement

Since February we have been examining 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." This month we will focus on the importance of acting with love and caring when working with youth and their trauma.

The word “love” rarely shows up in policy, legal statutes, or practice manuals. However, acting with love and caring is a crucial aspect of youth workers’ ability to support young people in their healing and development. Youth workers can still maintain important boundaries with young people while creating a relationship that includes love and strengthens youth resilience. Here are some considerations in acting with love and caring:

  • Practice patience with young people.
  • Help young people see that they matter.
  • Show up for young people in times of crisis. Showing young people that they can rely on youth workers especially in times of crisis builds trust and care. This means showing up when not expected, standing by young people when they are in trouble, and helping young people distinguish moments of failure from being a failure.
  • Challenge and push young people in ways that encourage them to reflect and grow. Doing so can show young people that youth workers really care and want what is best for them. These conversations work best when the young person and worker have established a relationship with each other—this helps the young person to recognize that the youth worker cares about them and is acting out of love, not judgment.

Be 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

Lived Experience Insights


OCMH is privileged to know and work with many remarkable individuals with lived experience in children’s mental health. In this newsletter we’ve asked Scott Schuler, OCMH Lived Experience Partner Parent, to answer three questions about mental health support and coping strategies.

Tell us about a time when you felt supported by another person.

Over the years it has been either my mom or my wife – or a really good friend, but I’ve also learned people are likely to fail just as I do. Now, while I will rely on people for support – I know my primary support comes from the Lord Jesus.

When is the last time you asked for help?

I look for help from the Lord daily if not hourly in relation to dealing with the messiness of life. I will ask trusted people in my life to pray for specific requests when it seems appropriate.

What is your go-to coping strategy?

Knowing the Lord Jesus is on His Throne and is intimately involved in the details of my life and every life He created – in good and in bad times, He is always there and in control. As He stated – “do not fear, I have overcome the world.” With that knowledge I have nothing to fear or be anxious about!

-              Scott Schuler, OCMH Lived Experience Partner Parent

OCMH Updates


Wisconsin’s Youth Leaders Gather in Madison

Youth leaders in school-based mental wellness programs gathered at OCMH’s Mental Wellness Student Leadership Summit in Madison on April 12th. Attendees totaled nearly 400 students and adult staff advisors from 44 schools across Wisconsin, and the atmosphere was electric.

There were numerous highlights of the day including training on Holding Space for Conversations about Suicide and opportunities for students to connect and learn from each other. Instagram handles of school groups were shared with attendees, and connection stations offered reflective prompts for gratitude, art, and music.

The day was all about recognizing young people are the true experts on the youth mental health crisis. Get a glimpse of the day in this short video recap of the event or see the featured speakers in our extended video recap.

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. Learn more about school-based peer-led wellness programs in Wisconsin here.


Save the Date

OCMH will hold its final Social Connectedness of Youth Convening in June. The data point we will explore is making and keeping friends/difficulty with friendships. Mark your calendar now and look for more information soon.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024, 12-1:15 pm, Virtual

CMH Week

Children’s Mental Health Week and Month

May 5-11th was Children’s Mental Health Week and provided an opportunity to focus on the important work being done to improve children’s mental health and wellness in our State. We encourage everyone who cares about our young people to continue the celebration throughout May. Check out and use the following tools and resources available on our website:

Legislative & Policy Update

With the Wisconsin Legislature in recess, this update turns to new final rules issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on April 23 that advance access to quality care and improve health outcomes across fee-for-service (FFS) and managed care health plans.

Ensuring Access to Medicaid Services (Access Rule). This rule addresses critical dimensions of access across both Medicaid FFS and managed care delivery systems, including for home and community-based services. These improvements seek to increase transparency and accountability, standardize data and monitoring, and create opportunities for states to promote active beneficiary engagement in their Medicaid programs, with the goal of improving holistic access to care. The full final rule is available online.

Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program Managed Care Access, Finance, and Quality (Managed Care Rule). This rule strengthens standards for timely access to care and states’ monitoring and enforcement efforts; enhances quality and fiscal and program integrity standards for state directed payments (SDPs); specifies the scope of in lieu of services and settings (ILOSs) to better address health-related social needs (HRSNs); further specifies medical loss ratio (MLR) requirements; and establishes a quality rating system (QRS) for Medicaid and CHIP managed care plans. This rule is also available online.  

Legislative Council Study Committee on Emergency Detention and Civil Commitment of Minors

Summer in even years is the time that the Legislature appoints committees with legislators and public members to study complex issues and propose legislation for consideration in the next Legislative session. This year’s study committee on Emergency Detention and Civil Commitment of Minors is directed to study the appropriateness of current emergency detention and civil commitment laws as applied to minors. The committee is to review whether special emergency detention procedures should be established for minors, including whether persons other than law enforcement should be permitted or required to take a minor into custody for the purpose of emergency detention. The committee is also directed to review current civil commitment placement options for minors, with an emphasis on examining the appropriateness of placements outside Wisconsin and the feasibility of creating psychiatric residential treatment facilities for minors in Wisconsin. After these reviews, the committee is to recommend legislation that creates child-appropriate emergency detention and civil commitment procedures and maximizes civil commitment placement options for minors in Wisconsin. Sen. James (R-Altoona) will chair the study committee and Rep. Snyder (R-Schofield) will serve as vice-chair. The availability of intensive treatment for youth and the requirements around transportation of youth to treatment are significant issues for children and those caring for them.

Of Interest

May is Mental Health Month

May is recognized nationally as Mental Health Month, providing an opportunity to raise awareness, combat stigma, and promote mental health resources. Mental Health America is celebrating 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.

May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

This year’s theme is “Bridging Histories, Shaping Our Future.” Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, also known as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, is an annual celebration that recognizes the historical and cultural contributions that individuals of Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi descent have made to the United States. Learn more.

Collaboration Guide for Schools and Community Mental Health Providers

In 2016, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released guidance to support school efforts to connect with community mental health providers. Building on that initial guidance, the Collaboration Guide for Schools and Community Mental Health Providers addresses a range of issues that have emerged over the past several years as schools and communities have continued to grow access to mental health services and treatment as part of the implementing the comprehensive model of school mental health. The guide is available on the website for the Coalition for Expanding School-based Mental Health in Wisconsin.

Don't give up

This is progress