Read This before You Launch that Children’s Mental Health Initiative

November 19, 2013

Today’s blog post was written by Lina Paredes, vice president of program at the Connecticut Health Foundation.

Imagine you, a children’s mental health expert, want to improve children’s mental health in a significant way. You’re not interested in a programs-and-services approach, although you know those are a vital component of helping children. No, you want to launch a new initiative – and not just any initiative.

A statewide, school-based mental health initiative.

Pop quiz: where do you begin? For bonus points: how do you know if you’re reinventing the wheel?

Before today, answering those questions was not easy to do. In many ways, Connecticut boasts some of the most innovative initiatives and programs in children’s mental health. Some of these efforts have been highly successful, while others have lacked the needed buy-in, support, or funding to be implemented successfully or sustained over time. And we continue to strive to improve children’s mental health systems and families still struggle to gain access to the best available services.

Part of the problem stems quite simply from the answer to the second pop-quiz question; Connecticut state and federal agencies, philanthropy, academic institutions, provider organizations, and nonprofits have had no real way of knowing if they were reinventing the wheel.

For those of us who work on the issue of children’s mental health, we know that we could create the biggest impact for children and families if the right hand could more easily know what the left hand was doing.

Today we’re moving several steps in that direction. We’re pleased to announce the launch of CMH Connect, an internet-based database hosted by the United Way that will serve as a clearinghouse to link experts together for idea sharing, collaboration, and the opportunity to create new funding partnerships.

The Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health), the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut, Inc. (CHDI) and a group of expert children’s mental health advisors came together to make CMH Connect a reality. 2-1-1 United Way will own and administer the website.

While it’s not intended for consumers, our hope is that consumers will benefit from children’s mental health stakeholders developing statewide, regional, and local initiatives. There’s room too for the crossover areas such as education, juvenile justice, health, child welfare, early childhood, in-home and other related initiatives.

So now we offer the answers to both pop quiz questions: visit www.cmhconnect.com or contact Robert Franks, PhD, Vice President of the Children’s Health and Development Institute, and Director of the Connecticut Center for Effective Practice at rfranks@uchc.edu. If you know an initiative that may have not been included in the database, please contact infodept@ctunitedway.org.

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