More than 300 counselors, teachers, parents and others who work with children in Houston attended a one-day conference to learn about recent trends and strategies for meeting the mental health needs of children, youth and their families.
A significant number of children with mental health conditions or serious emotional disturbances have unmet needs, according to a strategic plan released by the Harris County Joint City/County Commission on Children in May 2009 (view the report at www.hogg.utexas.edu). The 18-month communitywide planning process was funded by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in 2007.
"Young Minds Matter: Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Children, Youth and Families" was hosted by the Hogg Foundation to bring attention to issues identified in the strategic plan. Miss Ima Hogg, a long-time Houston resident and founder of the Hogg Foundation, focused much of her philanthropic work to improve the lives of children in Houston and Harris County.
Serious emotional disturbances can severely disrupt the daily lives of children and youth at home, in school or in the community. Mental health researchers estimate that up to 19 percent of students exhibit symptoms of these diagnosable disorders. However, only one percent are identified and referred for appropriate services.
Families, schools and communities must work together to raise children and youth to become mentally and physically healthy adults. Equally important is the availability of resources and supports in the community.
"This is a huge challenge that requires smart, dedicated, talented people in the community working together," Dr. Octavio N. Martinez Jr., executive director of the foundation, told the crowd. "The solution begins with you and others in the community who are making things better for the children of Houston. Thanks to our founders, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health is partnering with the Houston community to help as well."
In response to the strategic plan, the Hogg Foundation awarded $7.8 million in eight grants to projects that are providing mental health services to an estimated 10,000 children and youth in high-need areas of Houston and Harris County during the next three years.
As a follow-up to the grants, the foundation hosted the conference to provide quality training about children's mental health to enhance the skills and knowledge of service providers, local and state agency staff, educators, advocates, and parents and caregivers. The conference also covered best practices in children's mental health and recommend strategies for enhancing the resources and services offered to children and families.
Conference presentations will be posted on the Hogg Foundation's Web site. The conference was held at the Jesse H. Jones Conference Center in Houston.
The Hogg Foundation was founded in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James Hogg to promote improved mental health for the people of Texas. The foundation's grants and programs support mental health consumer services, research, policy analysis and public education projects in Texas. The foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.