MSNBC Anchor & NBC News Senior Business Correspondent Stephanie Ruhle moderated Child Mind Institute Summit: Telehealth and the Coronavirus

New York, NY – California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris, MD, took part in the Child Mind Institute Summit: Telehealth and the Coronavirus, bringing attention to both the benefits and challenges of healthcare access. The Facebook Live conversation between Dr. Harris and Child Mind Institute President Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, focused on youth mental health during the coronavirus pandemic and the impact of telehealth. The event was moderated by Stephanie Ruhle, MSNBC news anchor and NBC News senior business correspondent.

The panelists explored issues raised in the Child Mind Institute’s 2020 Children’s Mental Health Report to examine how recent technological advances in telehealth and the spread of the coronavirus have intensified the conversation on how to increase access to healthcare. Children face even more barriers than adults when it comes to obtaining mental health care — especially children in rural, marginalized and low socioeconomic status communities.

“I think if there is any opportunity that has come out of COVID it is telemental health,” said Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz. “We are offering services to kids in more locations, particularly in rural areas and to kids who otherwise wouldn’t get it. Telemental health could actually democratize child mental health services if it is done properly. The fact that you can get help on a screen relatively quickly without a waiting list, or need for transportation, is really important. There are only 8,300 child psychiatrists in the United States and there are many states that have so few of them.”

The recently released Roadmap to Resilience: The California Surgeon General’s Report on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Toxic Stress and Health serves as a blueprint for how communities, states, and nations can recognize and effectively address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress as a root cause to some of the most harmful, persistent, and expensive societal and health challenges facing our world today. The report also shares details on California’s ACEs Aware initiative, a first-in-the-nation statewide effort to screen children and adults for ACEs in primary care, and to treat the impacts of toxic stress with trauma-informed care.

“There is a profound impact on this generation of children who are also having the experience of having parents who are extremely stressed and who are manifesting their own symptomatology as a result,” said Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect or growing up in a household where a parent is mentally ill or substance dependent. “In the state of California we launched a first in the nation initiative called ACEs Aware to train all of our health care providers on screening for adverse childhood experiences and responding with trauma informed care. I think it’s equally important  for us as parents and caregivers to be attuned to our own mental health and how we’re doing, how our sleep is, how our intake of substances is. There is an interdependency between a child’s wellbeing and the well being of their parent. The most important ingredient for a healthy child is a healthy caregiver.”

Both panelists also spoke about the recent urging from the CDC that students should be returning to in-person schools as soon as possible. “There is no doubt that the lack of socialization is having a negative effect on kids. The other part of school is hearing other people speak, learning how to share, learning how to wait your turn, being able to hear another person’s point of view, which gets lost on the two-dimensional screen. I think we need safety, we need social distancing, we need people to wear masks. This has been done in many public and private schools and they are successfully containing the virus and simultaneously keeping kids in school,” said Dr. Koplewicz.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris added, “With the right protection, including high levels of testing, PPE, masking, and distancing, it can be safe to return to school. In California we are being very focused on trying to bring those resources to our educators so our schools can safely reopen.”

The event was sponsored by Blue Shield of California and their youth mental health BlueSky initiative.

To watch the full conversation, please visit:
https://www.facebook.com/ChildMindInstitute/videos/424763505250274

About the Child Mind Institute

The Child Mind Institute is an independent, national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. Our teams work every day to deliver the highest standards of care, advance the science of the developing brain, and empower parents, professionals and policymakers to support children when and where they need it most. Together with our supporters, we’re helping children reach their full potential in school and in life. We share all of our resources freely and do not accept any funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Learn more at www.childmind.org.