Following suicide clusters among Palo Alto, Calif. adolescents in 2008-09 and again in 2014-15, mental health experts from Stanford Children's Health and Santa Clara County, as well as many concerned community members, have been working hard to improve mental-health support for local young people.
Now, these efforts are bearing fruit. A few highlights:
- Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released preliminary findings from a report on local youth suicides. Among other things, the report says nearly all youth deaths by suicide had precipitating factors such as a crisis or mental health problem, which raises hope for future suicide-prevention efforts.
- Child and adolescent psychiatrists at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford have conducted focus groups with Asian-American teens and their parents to identify barriers to achieving good mental-health support for adolescents in this community. The newly published findings include teens' descriptions of the pressure they feel growing up in an area filled with high-achieving tech company executives and Stanford professors; parents' and teens' concerns about stigma and maintaining confidentiality when seeking mental health care; and identification of gaps in awareness of local mental-health resources.
- Next week, several Stanford groups are hosting an Adolescent Mental Wellness Conference in South San Francisco. The goal is to bring together hundreds of policy makers, educators, clinicians, teens and their families to support mental-health needs of kids and teens. In a blog post from Stanford Children's Health, Steven Adelsheim, MD, previews one topic of discussion at the conference:
Specifically, the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing is working to set up a network of Youth Mental Health Centers that will offer confidential, low-cost physical and mental health care for young people ages 12 to 25 right in their communities, following the model of a national initiative in Australia, called “headspace.” Australia’s existing headspace centers offer stand-alone, integrated care sites with age-appropriate care for teenagers and young adults who are facing early life challenges, including issues like relationship breakups, bullying, sexual orientation, depression, anxiety or other mild-moderate health conditions. The centers also provide health care support for the youth’s families.
Conference registration is open until July 29; the conference takes place August 5 and 6, and financial aid is available.
Previously: Suicide, rape and other crises stump Siri and her conversational agent peers, Advice and guidance on teen suicide and Every life is touched by suicide: Stanford psychiatrist on the importance of prevention
Photo by Joshua Siniscal