By: Kayli Richter, Intern at Durham’s Partnership for Children, student at NC State University
Last week the newly-formed Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) Task Force held their kickoff meeting at the Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA) in Durham.
The meeting started off with an overview of the history of the Task Force. The ECMH Task Force was formed as a result of a community-wide meeting last August, convened by the Partnership, that focused on the mental health needs of Durham’s youngest children and addressed gaps in early childhood mental health that were outlined by the NC Institute of Medicine Study. Marcia Mandel, CDSA Director, then presented her previous experience with a similar task force, the Wake Young Child Mental Health Collaborative, in Wake County. Some of the highlights from Marcia’s presentation were the need for sustainable programs, the importance of community support, and the value of training.
The meeting also explained the four focus areas – tangible and important priorities that the ECMH Task Force will work to accomplish. These priorities included suggestions from Orange County on how to address mental health in early childhood: (1) operationalize a coordinated system for young children’s mental health, (2) strengthen and expand evidence based programs, (3) increase understanding of role of social emotional development among early care and education professionals, and (4) raise awareness of the mental health, social and emotional needs of young children.
The meeting concluded with an activity in which the Task Force worked together to brainstorm what Durham is already doing to address these needs followed by what still needs to be done. Further discussion and examination of services that are already in place to target the four focus areas will be taken up in the next meeting.
The next meeting of the ECMH Task Force will take place on Friday, March 11th at 11:00 am at CDSA. To view the Durham early childhood mental health resource guide created at the August community meeting, please click here. For questions or more information, please contact Wren Davisson.