Thursday, May 31, 2012

Annual Advocacy Day for Children and Adolescents

On May 11th, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) hosted more than 200 child and adolescent psychiatrists and family members affected by mental illness for its annual Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. The event brought together physicians, parents of children with mental illness, and youth advocates to promote children’s mental health issues on Capitol Hill.

Wendy Fayles, NAMI Utah Programs Director, took part in the event, meeting with the staff from the offices of Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Mike Lee, Representative Jim Matheson and Representative Jason Chaffetz to address issues related to access to child mental health services, the shortage of child mental health specialists in our community, and funding for children’s mental health programs.

“The thing that impacted me the most,” Wendy noted, “was the map showing the shortages of child and adolescent psychiatrists in Utah (map). I have talked to a number of parents whose children are on waiting lists several months long to see a psychiatrist. After looking at the map, I understand why. One of the things we asked our legislators to do was support funding for pediatric mental health loan repayment in this year’s appropriations, which would encourage more physicians to choose child psychiatry—a specialty that requires an extra two years of training and as much as $150k in additional student loan debt.”

To learn more about mental health statistics affecting Utah’s youth, click on the attached link.

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