Governor Newsom issued a proclamation declaring May 1-7, Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. The proclamation highlights the devastating statistics on the mental health status of children and youth during the pandemic and the need for a mental health system that is equitable, accessible and free of stigma. In the proclamation, the governor cites that:
- Mental health-related issues are the leading cause of hospitalization for children under 18 in California.
- A study by the Center for Disease Control found that nearly 3 in 5 U.S. teen girls felt sad or hopeless in 2021, a 60 percent increase in the last decade.
- California invested $4.7 billion in the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative to address the crisis.
Pacific Clinics’ Capital Region Executive Director Mary Sheppard provided insights into post-pandemic mental health for the new awareness week through the lens of those engaged in the many Pacific Clinics programs offered in the Capital region, which encompasses Amador County, Calaveras County, Contra Costa County, Madera County, Mariposa County, Merced County, Placer County, Sacramento County, San Joaquin County, Solano County, Stanislaus County, Tuolumne County and surrounding counties.
“We’ve seen positive changes in some of our programs; however, LGBTQ+ populations continue to need high levels of services,” says Sheppard. “Across most of our client populations, we have definitely seen the number of suicide attempts decrease, but the need for mental health services overall has remained the same. Pacific Clinics will continue to advocate for increased access to culturally respectful services and equitable solutions to meet the needs of children, youth, adults and communities.”