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National Governors Association and PBS LearningMedia Bring Widespread Attention to Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids

July 17, 2023

Every state in America is experiencing a youth mental health crisis. In fact, with one in five children struggling with a mental health or learning disorder, every family has almost certainly been affected in some way.

Since over 17 million young people in the US will have a mental health disorder by age 18 — in a country where 70% of counties do not have a single child and adolescent psychiatrist — the Child Mind Institute is developing innovative solutions that reach far beyond clinical settings. Our Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids project does just that, and this month it has gained nationwide attention in a National Governors Association (NGA) Playbook and on the PBS LearningMedia platform.

Thanks to Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids was generously funded by the state of California as part of a historic investment in children’s mental health. Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids focused on the needs of kindergarten-to-12th-grade students, and includes free, evidence-based video and print resources, in both English and Spanish, that educators can use to teach kids critical mental health and coping skills. Resources are tailored for three developmental ages: elementary, middle, and high school. The California Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids project reached over 72,500 California educators, representing over 8,400 schools and 100% of California school districts, ultimately reaching an estimated 1.8+ million students in the nine months after launching in January 2022.

Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids
The California Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids Project, elementary-age videos

Meanwhile, the NGA has focused on youth mental health as their 2022-2023 Chair’s Initiative, led by NGA Chair and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. With the sponsorship of Child Mind Institute supporter Carrie Walton Penner, Dr. Dave Anderson, a senior clinical psychologist and Vice President of School and Community Programs at the Child Mind Institute, moderated panels for multiple NGA roundtable convenings on youth mental health and attended the July NGA summer meeting.

All told, during this initiative 500 stakeholders on the front lines of the crisis nationwide, including Dr. Anderson, came together across four NGA convenings “to discuss innovative approaches, thoughtful programs, and effective models for addressing youth mental health,” according to Gov. Murphy. At the NGA summer meeting, Gov. Murphy unveiled the resulting “Strengthening Youth Mental Health: A Governor’s Playbook,” which highlights 35 policy recommendations and features around 125 such approaches, programs, and models from across the country. We are proud to announce that Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids is one of the successful programs highlighted.

In a powerful video about the NGA’s youth mental health initiative, featuring experts and leaders from across the country, including Dr. Anderson, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said, “These are not issues that are confined to a state line or a party line.” We couldn’t agree more. Thankfully, teachers across the country can soon benefit from the Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids resources, just as so many teachers in California already have. The video and PDF resources are available on the PBS LearningMedia educator platform, which attracts 1.6 million educators per month, and will be further promoted in the Fall via the PBS LearningMedia homepage and newsletter.

Governor Phil Murphy and Governor Gretchen Whitmer discuss the NGA’s Youth Mental Health Initiative

At the Child Mind Institute, we are heartened by such widespread discussions of youth mental health, and grateful that the NGA is prioritizing the issue. We look forward to seeing how governors in all states and parties apply Gov. Muphy’s recommendations, and we applaud all four pillars of the Playbook:

  • Addressing prevention and building resilience
  • Increasing awareness and reducing stigma
  • Ensuring access and affordability of quality treatment and care
  • Training and supporting caregivers and educators

Our own mission and programs—such as our School and Community Programs, our Youth Mental Health Academy, and our partnering to build Fort Health—cover similar ground.

The first step to reversing the worrying recent spike of mental health disorders and suicide attempts in youth is making sure every family knows that these disorders are real, common, and treatable. Next, we must make sure preventative and treatment resources, like Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids and our Family Resource Center, are available and known to all. The NGA raised awareness about our resources, underscored the critical importance of our mission to transform children’s lives, and sowed seeds for state-level collaborations beyond California. This collective commitment to improving youth mental health nationwide is much needed.

Child and adolescent mental health statistics are still trending in the wrong direction, but with such increasing national focus on this crisis, the children and families struggling are finally getting the attention and resources they deserve.

Our Mental Health Initiatives

The California Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids Project

A series of free, evidence-based video and print resources that caregivers and educators can use to teach their kids critical mental health and coping skills. The project was born of an innovative partnership between the state of California and the Child Mind Institute.

Learn More

School and Community Programs

The School and Community Programs team at the Child Mind Institute brings evidence-based mental health care to high-need school communities through skill-building programs and direct clinical services for students, professional training for educators and school-based clinicians, and resources that support caregivers.

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Youth Mental Health Academy

The Child Mind Institute Youth Mental Health Academy provides community-based career development to rising high school juniors and seniors from structurally marginalized communities, through paid project-based learning and paid summer internships.

Learn More

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