OCMH June 2024 Newsletter

Wisconsin Office of Children's Mental Health logo

OCMH June 2024 Newsletter

Key Facts in Youth Mental Health Now Available

Key Facts

A go-to, one page data snapshot on the mental health challenges Wisconsin youth face is now available from the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health (OCMH). Key data points are the focus and include rates of anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicidality, along with factors that impact kids’ mental health – late night screen use and school belonging. The snapshot also breaks down the data into specific groups, shedding light on some concerning mental health trends. The data included are the most recently available data and will be updated as new data are released.

See Key Facts in Youth Mental Health.

June Convening - Youth Making and Keeping Friends and Mental Health

June Convening

You are invited!

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

Register here

OCMH wraps up its 2024 Social Connectedness of Youth convenings in June with a focus on youth making and keeping friends and how that relates to their mental health. Teens' ability to make and keep friends is important – the quality of teen friendships can predict physical and mental health in adulthood.

Join OCMH as we bring people from across the state to share ideas and discuss the importance of youth friendships and how that relates to their mental health. Here is what you can expect in this convening:

  • Learn why the ability to make and keep friends is critical to youth mental health.
  • Hear from panelists about two programs that are focusing on building friendships and connections among students.
  • Learn from others – in small group discussions you’ll hear from others across the state about youth friendships.
  • Meet others and network – connect with others and share best practices. Come ready to share!

These convenings are open to people and organizations in Wisconsin interested in children's mental health. Feel free to share our flyer on the June convening.

Showcasing Solutions Shares Story of Student-led Mental Wellness Programs


Want to hear more about the great things going on in children’s mental health in Wisconsin? Then check out OCMH’s Showcasing Solutions. Each month we tell the story of an inspiring program that is helping youth mental health and wellness in Wisconsin. This month we focus on student-led mental wellness programs, specifically focusing on Sources of Strength. See the latest Showcasing Solutions. Check out all our Showcasing Solutions.

Hear more about student-led mental wellness programs by attending our June Social Connectedness of Youth Convening on youth making and keeping Friends (see above article).

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


In last month’s newsletter we shared information and tips for parents on what to do while they wait for children’s mental health services. All too often there is a wait time before the first appointment with a mental health professional, and that wait time can be long. We now have a resource flyer sharing these tips available on our website. See it here.

OCMH 10th Anniversary

10th Anniversary logo

The Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health (OCMH) is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2024. To acknowledge the milestone, we have a number of special resources.

  • OCMH Partner Reflection Quotes – each month we are sharing thoughts and reflections from long-term partners of our work. This month we hear from Rob Kaminski – OCMH Lived Experience Partner, Todd Campbell – Division Administrator, Behavioral Health Division at the Dane County Department of Human Services, and Kathi Cauley – Ring of Life, LLC and former Director of the Jefferson County Department of Human Services. They share their reflections on youth voice and leadership in OCMH’s work. See the quotes
  • Children’s Mental Health Fact of the Month – the data on children’s mental health are alarming. We want to help people understand these key facts and data. Towards that end, on a monthly basis through the end of year we will focus on one youth mental health data point. This month we look at the gap between the number of youth who have mental health conditions and those that actually receive treatment. See it here.

Stay current with OCMH 10th Anniversary activities on our special webpage.

Wisconsin Wayfinder - Informational Webinar

OCMH is hosting an informational webinar on Wisconsin Wayfinder. There will be an opportunity to ask questions of Wisconsin Wayfinder staff.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024 • 12 pm

Register here

Wisconsin Wayfinder supports families of children with delays, disabilities, special health care needs, and mental health conditions. Learn more.

LEP Insights

Heidi R

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 Heidi Roettger, 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.

One particular time that stands out in my mind is when I reached out to a very knowledgeable and experienced Peer Specialist I know when I was struggling from some lingering brain inflammation after a rough bout of Covid. I had exhausted all of my usual methods of managing my symptoms. Using her training and lived experience, she was able to listen with compassion, validate my experience, share relative stories of her own and others, highlight some of my personal strengths, and provide hope that I would overcome this challenge as I have many times before. It took some time for me to get completely back to myself again but I felt an immediate shift in my capacity to get through my rough patch after our conversation. I knew I had support, someone understood what I was going through, and I was not alone.

When was the last time you asked for help?

These days, I find myself asking for help on a daily basis – even multiple times within a day. Whether it is with a task that needs to be done around the house, a work-related project, a request for connection to information, individuals or resources, or to manage a personal need. I wasn’t always as comfortable turning to others for help. At times I experienced greater challenges because I felt I needed to take care of everything on my own. I have come to realize that my ego will survive it – there is no shame in needing help. In fact, asking for help is a strength and sign of resilience rather than a weakness and sign of dependency. I’ve also learned that we have a fundamental need as humans to be in connection and collaboration with each other for survival.

What is your go-to coping strategy?

My initial response was that I don’t have one go-to coping strategy – I have an entire workbench full of tools that I turn to. I frequently rotate and use multiple tools together as preventative measures, not just as responsive solutions. My go-to coping strategy is actually nurturing a solid, balanced foundation of wellness and resources so that I’m in a better position to weather any storms that come my way. My foundation includes three primary pillars. The first is keeping my nervous system regulated by gargling, humming, singing, grounding, moderate exercise, listening to music and bilateral sounds, using fidgets, weighted blankets, and other devices. The second is practicing a healthy lifestyle to reduce inflammation in my body by consuming whole foods that are primarily gluten-, dairy-, corn- and, soy-free; organic; grass-fed; pasture-raised; wild-caught and minimally-processed with low amounts of sugar, sodium, additives, and preservatives. I also strive for minimal toxins in my water, air, personal and cleaning products. The third pillar I focus on is creating connection and purpose in life through interaction with nature, immediate family, close friends, people I respect, and using my voice for advocacy and improvements.

Healing Centered Engagement - Build Critical Reflection

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."

Each month we’ve explored tangible skills youth workers can employ. These include: 1) start by building empathy with young people, 2) encourage young people to dream and imagine, and 3) act with love and caring. This month we will look at the importance of building critical reflection that draws upon the collective, moral, and emotional aspects of healing.

Building this critical reflection includes helping young people to increase their Knowledge of Adolescent Development and to understand how their experience with youth-serving systems may influence and impact their developmental journey. Specific things youth workers can do include:

  • Support young people in reflecting upon and learning from their personal adolescent journey. This includes learning about the adolescent brain, the impact of racism, trauma, toxic stress, and being excluded due to a disability on their well-being, and how connections to family, caring adults, friends, and the community can have a role in their healing.
  • Actively engage with young people in ongoing civic education. This includes helping young people better understand child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and other public policies and laws that may impact their current and future experiences. Young people should be given opportunities to join youth councils and to explore community advocacy opportunities.
  • Help young people uncover historical, racist and structural impediments that impede them from thriving.
  • Help young people analyze the practices and policies that contributed to their trauma in the first place.

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. Read the article.

Of Interest

Pride flag

June is Pride Month

Pride Month is celebrated each year in the month of June to recognize the impact the LGBTQIA2s+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, and countless affirmative ways others choose to identify) people have had on society locally, nationally, and internationally. Celebrations honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.

See Gov. Evers’ proclamation for Pride Month.

Juneteenth is June 19

Juneteenth is an annual holiday marking the day after the end of the Civil War when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. Juneteenth commemorates this day and celebrates African American history, heritage, and culture of joy in the face of adversity. On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed a bill making June 19th—known as Juneteenth—a federal holiday.

3 digits

Help is 3 Numbers Away

The “In Wisconsin Help is 3 Numbers Away” resource explains the different topics and issues Wisconsin’s three different three-digit help numbers (211, 988, and 911) cover. The resource is available in English, Spanish, and Hmong.

Impact of Fines/Fees in Wisconsin’s Youth Justice System

Kids Forward is working with a coalition of national and Wisconsin community organizations and legal advocates to learn how juvenile, criminal, and municipal court costs (fines, fees, surcharges, and restitution orders) are impacting Wisconsin’s system-involved youth and their families. They invite Wisconsin youth families with experience with youth fines and fees to complete it. The survey can be forwarded to youth and families who might be interested in sharing their experience with costs and fees in juvenile, criminal, or municipal courts. Take or share the survey.

Grant Opportunity – National Refugee Children and Youth Resilience Program

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), within the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF), announces funding for a new Refugee Children and Youth Resilience Program. Through this award, ORR intends to establish a program that will strengthen support for ORR-eligible children, youth, and the adults caring for them by building staff capacity with child welfare knowledge at refugee-serving agencies. Learn more.

“Saying, Not Saying” Campaign Aims to Reduce Mental Health Stigma

“How are you?” We hear the question often and it usually gets a simple answer. For those experiencing a mental health concern, the answer may not be simple. What they say and how they feel can be very different things. They hold back the truth for fear of judgment. Reducing this fear of judgment is the goal of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) “Saying, Not Saying” campaign. In revealing the things left unsaid when answering “how are you?”, this campaign points to some signs of mental health concerns like body aches, inability to concentrate, inability to get out of bed, loss of appetite, losing interest in hobbies, and trouble sleeping. Learn more. See DHS’s tips to boost mental health.

Share Your Feedback on Services Specific to Children and Families

Do you live in Wisconsin? If so, the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health invites you to take a survey!

Each participant will receive a $20 gift card for their completed survey. Indigo Cultural Center is a non-profit research firm partnering with the Healthy Minds Healthy Children program that's funded by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. They are conducting a survey to find ways to support more services for children, families, and communities. To achieve this goal, they need to hear from you! They want to learn more about your thoughts and experiences regarding Wisconsin and the services that are available to your community. If you have taken this survey in the past, you are still eligible to take it again and receive the gift card. This survey will close on June 14, 2024, and incentives will be distributed by the end of June 2024.  Some of these questions were included in a previous survey for Healthy Minds Healthy Children. We still ask that you answer any and all questions to the best of your ability.

Take the survey here