CYFC Update — August 2017
"Mental Health: Yours, Mine and Ours" — The Video and Next Steps
It has been a long time since we updated our readers on our activities associated with the video Mental Health: Yours, Mine and Ours. Over two years ago, this video was posted on our CYFC YouTube channel. Since then, it has been used in a myriad of events, trainings, and public spaces, and viewed by over 4,000 individuals. What do these users think? And what's happening now?
First, we heard viewers' requests for more research, specifically that which draws connections between mental well-being and other general health indicators such as nutrition, sleep, exercise, poverty, etc. We also heard that viewers wanted to learn more about mental health as a public health issue. So, we created a number of annotated bibliographies (eleven currently, and counting) and made them publicly available on a new section of our website called Children's Mental Health as a Public Health Issue. Next we heard that, while people found the video's content relevant and helpful in making practice and policy changes, they had a hard time starting conversations with others about mental health. Stigma and shame still associated with the term "mental health" make this difficult. So, we gathered a group of community and University partners and created discussion guides to help start these conversations. You can find these on the website, too.
Last winter, we worked with a community partner from the Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health (MACMH) to learn how members of different communities and cultures view mental health, and to guide next steps with the video. Initial themes from these focus groups tell us that:
- viewing the video changes perceptions of mental health ("it normalized mental health," "it gives a lot of hope");
- viewing the video promotes discussion about mental health as a public health issue ("it all starts with living conditions," "everyone has something to offer");
- viewers are very concerned with the current method of diagnosis ("professionals only know what they interact with directly");
- there are many definitions of "optimal mental health" ("self-sufficiency," "meeting basic needs," "managing secondary trauma," "self-care"); and
- there are many things in our communities and organizations that make mental health promotion difficult ("stigma," "shame," "fragmented systems," "lack of trust in system").
We also learned from over a hundred viewer surveys that the video has accessible and bias-free language, portrays accurate information about mental health, includes applicable information, and serves as a good starting point for conversation. Viewers have interest in re-creating the video in different languages, with different messengers, and with content tailored for different audiences. If you haven't already seen it, view the video and find all these resources. Let us know if you want to partner with us in keeping this conversation moving forward!
CYFC Program Updates and News
CYFC Advisory Board
An hour and a half moves very quickly during CYFC's quarterly Advisory Board meetings. We met July 17 with a group of thoughtful and dynamic board members. Attendees offered generative comments and ideas about how to maximize dissemination of the abundant number of resources and learning materials we have developed over the past years. In addition to updates about this year's Lessons from the Field, the new early childhood case study, and the Bruce Vento storytelling project, there was a lot of discussion about plans for next year's Scholar in Residence and ways to promote CYFC's unique work. If you have an interest in being part of this dynamic group of people, please contact Cari Michaels, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twenty-Five Years of Service
CYFC was established here at the University of Minnesota just over 25 years ago. We have been spending time looking back, considering our mission and vision, and planning for the future. Over the years, with leadership and interdisciplinary staff changes, CYFC's direction has shifted. Currently, we are focused on building the work that the Center of Excellence in Children's Mental Health began within CYFC in the early 2000s. This includes a broad focus on children's mental health as a public health issue. To take a look back at past CYFC projects as well as current and ongoing directions, check out our recent blog post Twenty-Five Years of Service: CYFC, the University, and Our Surrounding Communities.
Mental Health Promotion - Expanding our Partnerships
CYFC staff have begun to work more closely with other state and national leaders engaged in mental health promotion. We are meeting with a representative of the Minnesota Department of Health to explore partnership possibilities and are pleased to see their new Mental Health Promotion website. We participated in a two-day meeting sponsored by the Network for Public Health Law and attended by leaders within their Northern Region. The Network provides legal assistance and related resources and has recently posted an Promoting Mental Health and Well-Being in Public Health Law and Practice (pdf). And, we recently launched a network of Extension professionals interested in mental health promotion. Mental health promotion is a growing field and we're pleased to meet new partners!
Related Community Resource
Join the Mental Well-Being and Resilience Learning Community, a monthly learning opportunity hosted by the Minnesota Department of Health and open to anyone who is interested in building resilience and promoting mental well-being.
Lessons from the Field Evaluation Report
This year's Lessons from the Field workshops "Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth" reached nearly 500 people across Minnesota. Originally planned as just two workshops, one in Minneapolis and another at a regional site, the number of workshops grew to seven. In total, we logged over 1,500 miles traveling from Minneapolis to St. Cloud, Rochester, Morris, Andover, Grand Rapids, and Bemidji. The response from participants was very positive and we continue to receive requests like this one to host more workshops about transgender youth: "This is a topic that is so important and we all need tools to help us support transgender youth." Jenifer McGuire, University of Minnesota Associate Professor in the Department of Family Social Science, was our inaugural Scholar in Residence and served as our primary speaker this year. She brought a wealth of information that covered language, gender development, ambiguous loss, and family challenges, all backed by current and cutting-edge research.
Cari Michaels highlighted the mental health risks such a high suicide rates for transgender youth and provided hopeful research that tells us that mediating factors such as supportive families and schools increase mental health and well-being for transgender youth. And SNAP-Ed Educator Nathan Hesse talked about resources to ensure increased food access for transgender youth who are homeless.
In February we were joined by Jenifer's colleague Vanessa Lacey, Health and Education Manager at Transgender Equality Network Ireland, who has helped develop parent support groups in that country. Vanessa has led workshops in Ireland aimed at helping families support their loved ones through the process of change and improving family relationships. One of the aims of these workshops is helping both trans individuals and their families gain insight into one another's experiences and points of view.
Prior to attending, participants at the Minneapolis event expressed a range of familiarity with the topics being discussed. Participants were most familiar with the topic of mental health, with 79% reporting being either fairly or very familiar. Participants were also familiar with transgender related information, with 74% reporting being fairly or very familiar. Participants were less familiar with the topic of nutritional risks, with only 29% reporting being either fairly or very familiar. A majority of participants said they would recommend the workshops to others, citing specifically colleagues and family members.
Here are some of the comments people around the state made about the workshops:
- From a Minneapolis participant: "All (or most) of the information will be news to many colleagues at school and the practical implications will certainly inform my work as a counselor with all students. Most specifically it will help me immensely in my role as the GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) advisor."
- From a Morris participant: "The restroom issue is a big concern in western Minnesota school communities. I hope to be an advocate for a safe place [for transgender youth]."
- And from a Rochester participant: "Thank you for expanding the topic to include the family, puberty suppression, and body image that includes big hands, big feet, etc."
MACMH-IEC Faculty Symposium
CYFC played a role in the July 26 Faculty Symposium on Embedding Core Principles of Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health into Curricula. This event was the third of its kind sponsored by the Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health — Infant and Early Childhood Division (MACMH-IEC). These symposia are designed to teach higher education faculty across the state about innovative strategies for reaching infant and early childhood mental health content into their courses. CYFC presented the new case study "Brianna and Tanya: A Case Study about Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health" and explored ways to use this case in partnership with faculty participants.