Discussion and Recommendations

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The results from the full survey were compiled and presented at the YFC regional meeting in November of 2021. The members adopted their recommendation to add a goal to the Work Plan:

  • Increasing access to high quality behavioral health supports in schools by promoting trainings endorsed by youth and families for school faculty and staff, and by working to increase the number of behavioral health clubs in schools. Click Here for Details

A listening forum was held at YFC’s October 2022 regional meeting to further define that goal. Youth and family participants endorsed the following evidence-based trainings:

  • Youth-Led Trusted Adult Training

  • Strengthening Families Program

  • Youth Mental Health First Aid

  • Science of Hope

 

Youth and family participants were asked their opinions on how to promote behavioral health clubs in regional schools. The conversation revealed that young people are interested in groups that offer opportunities for community building, education, and support. Topics they identified for discussion include: coping skills, communication with parents, dealing with depression, financial resources for behavioral health services, inclusivity, friendships, and stigma-busting.

Youth and families alike noted that family involvement could both help ensure that families have an influence over the clubs while allowing young people to drive the process in meaningful ways. For instance, club leaders could survey parents and caregivers regularly about proposed topics. Developing a sense of community for both youth and family members was identified by the group as integral to a club’s stability and chances of success.

YFC’s tri-leads reviewed the full results of this Strengths and Needs Assessment on September 30, 2022 and proposed the following recommendations:

  • Add a new goal to YFC’s Work Plan regarding child welfare placement disruptions and youth homelessness based on the priority youth and families place on safe and stable housing.

 

The emphasis on Safe and Stable Housing as a key component of recovery suggests that YFC should focus on learning more about two groups of children, youth, and young adults over the next two years: youth in out-of-home placements and homeless youth.

It is well-documented that youth of color and youth with disabilities are overrepresented in the child welfare system, and that LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented among homeless youth. That the second highest ranking topic in recovery was Physical and Emotional Health, coupled with the perception of survey-takers that behavioral health services provided to youth of color and those who identify as LGBTQ+ are ineffective, further supports the recommendation that YFC take a closer look at how child welfare and youth homelessness services support youth of color, LGBTQ+ youth, and young people with disabilities. Connections between the behavioral health, child welfare, and youth homelessness systems must be explored in further detail, however, before further planning can take place.

  • Reach out to pediatricians and other primary care providers based on the priority youth and families place on health.

 

This recommendation is based on three things: the high priority survey respondents placed on Physical and Emotional Health, the absence of medical professionals at YFC regional meetings, and the lack of school-based health centers in the North Sound region. The addition of those system partner voices around the table will, hopefully, put YFC in a better position to assess the connections between primary care and behavioral health in the region.

  • Develop cards to hand out to people that help them prepare for behavioral health appointments.

 

As YFC’s Outreach Committee works to develop social marketing campaigns, the survey data regarding Trust and the System of Care suggests that individual advocacy efforts may be helpful in preparing children, youth, and young adults for behavioral health appointments so that they get the maximum benefit from their participation in services. Wavering levels of confidence in service efficacy, comfort in reaching out for help, and confidence that professionals will be helpful at all suggest that time spent preparing for appointments may lead to better experiences overall.

  • Point website visitors to local directories so that resources are more easily identified. Invite resource list keepers to speak at upcoming YFC meetings.

 

More than 70% of survey respondents that indicated they had never received education on locating resources believe that a short training or information packet would be helpful to them. YFC members are aware of several efforts around the region to create and maintain databases and resource lists. YFC can highlight these efforts by inviting the keepers of those resource lists to present at regional meetings, and by linking to those resources from YFC’s website.

  • Find out what public information campaigns are already out there regarding behavioral health and amplify them – scale them up.

 

This recommendation was based on the finding by the Office of the Washington State Auditor that only 15% of schools in their study had engaged in behavioral health-related campaigns or events. An easy solution is to promote campaigns developed by other organizations on YFC’s social media accounts while promoting links to media kits so that schools can do the same.

  • Recommend that the state reduce administrative burdens.

 

Also based on the Office of the Washington State Auditor’s report (see Appendix), YFC’s tri-leads agree that efforts to reduce administrative burdens will pay off richly in terms of increased availability of providers and the recruitment of new providers currently in private practice.

  • Create a youth leadership page for YFC’s website that links to resources, programs, and opportunities.

 

YFC values positive youth development and adult/youth partnerships that help youth gain valuable knowledge and leadership skills to mitigate negative spaces and promote stigma reduction. Thus, based on both that value and Mental Health America’s recommendations (see Appendix), it is recommended that YFC endeavor to make leadership opportunities as apparent and easy to access as possible by using YFC’s website to create a directory of opportunities.