Our students face a complicated world in their journey toward maturity.
That’s why I called together Wyoming stakeholders in our children’s well-being for the 2008 Governor’s Roundtable on Children’s Mental Health conference on November 5-6, 2008 in Cheyenne.
The goal? To challenge our schools, social-services providers and state policymakers to overcome shortsighted traditions when dealing with children exhibiting emotional, behavioral and mental disorders. Unfortunately, these disorders are all too common.
The latest research from the National Institutes of Health reveals that 50 percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness in the United States begin by the young age of 14. Moreover, mental illness, if left untreated, can lead to risk behaviors and self-harm, even suicide.
The implications of these findings are profound for our schools where at-risk youths are enrolled, and for community agencies that interact with them.
Findings point to the need for screening programs to identify vulnerable youths, curricula to help students understand what mental illness is, educational materials for parents and intervention skills training for school staff.
I applaud those schools that are implementing proven suicide prevention programs for youth. And I challenge other schools to follow this example.
The rewards of taking action are many, as research shows that early intervention with children exhibiting behavioral or mental disorders can lead to improved outcomes for the child, the family and our state.”