The Hackett Center for Mental Health, along with Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) and the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) hosted the third annual Nantucket Children’s Mental Health Summit July 28th and 29th. Of course, the Summit had to be held virtually this year; however, that didn’t stop the participants from engaging in lively and meaningful conversations about the significant mental health issues facing children, youth and families during these unprecedented times.
Children’s mental health experts from Massachusetts and Texas, who joined the Summit, represented highly prestigious institutions. From Massachusetts, participants came from the Boston University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Tufts University School of Medicine, and The University of Massachusetts Medical School. From Texas, representatives came from Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, the University of Texas Medical Branch, the University of Texas, and UT Health. Among those facilitating these discussions were MAMH President and CEO Danna Mauch, PhD, MMHPI President and CEO Andy Keller, PhD, MMHPI Executive Vice President of State Policy Michelle Harper, and The Hackett Center Executive Director Gary Blau, PhD.
Building on the success of the first two Summits, which included strategies to promote the integration of physical and mental health care as well as the expansion of tele-mental health in schools, conversations this year took on a more urgent tone. Discussions included how COVID-19 has reshaped the work we do, how the increased awareness of systemic racism has impacted youth and families, and how we can help schools address the mental health needs of students. These innovative dialogues led to plans for collaboration on the continuation and expansion of telehealth, the importance of school-linked and multi-tiered services, the need to educate parents, educators and public officials about the importance of “caring for every child’s mental health,” and strategies to finance and sustain evidence-based practices.
Dr. Laurel Williams from Baylor College of Medicine reflects on the summit:
To me, what makes this conference different and what makes me excited is that it is very action-oriented. I go to other conferences to learn for myself or to teach other people. This one is really more like “okay, what can we possibly do to move the ball down the field?” versus “let’s just talk endlessly and never come up with anything.”
These summits continue to identify the need to improve the integration of mental health services across child serving systems, the importance of addressing social inequities and systemic racism, and how collaborative partnerships can solve complex problems.
As you can tell, the “Virtual Nantucket Summit” was truly a great event! We are so thankful for the support of Maureen and Jim Hackett for sponsoring the Summit, and for being passionate visionaries about improving the lives of children and youth with mental health conditions and their families.