On November 14, 2023, researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and community members gathered at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh for the NCIOM Annual Meeting. This year's meeting, Promoting the Mental Health and Well-being of Children and Youth: Solutions for a Brighter Future, highlighted the factors that influence the health and well-being of our state’s children, from social drivers of health to protective supports at the family, individual, and community levels.
Sandy Chung, MD, FAAP, the 2023 President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), gave the keynote address, discussing the challenges facing children and youth in North Carolina and across the country, from loss of caregivers during COVID-19 to suicide risk.
Dr. Chung recommended expanding the capacity of the existing child mental health workforce, noting that, "primary care is uniquely positioned for this.”
The keynote was followed by a plenary panel, Early Detection and Intervention to Improve Youth Mental Health Outcomes. Breakout sessions offered deep dives into prevention, access to physical and mental health care, unique social drivers of health for children and youth, the workforce that cares for this population, and more.
As part of a panel on Investing in Child and Family Supports to Foster Resilience, Karen McLeod, President and CEO of Benchmarks NC, drew attention to how many parents are just trying to make it through the day.
"Our families are facing so much right now, and we have to do better," she said.
"We have not had a strong care management system for our kids for a long time. Right now, we wait until you’re over the edge as a family, then you can get some help. That is backwards. We can support families early on and that is transformational.”
During a panel on Addressing the Mental Health Workforce Crisis, the conversation turned to tools for prevention. Dr. Therese Garrett of WellCare Health Plans said:
"When many of us were growing up, we all learned about 911. Now we need to think about how we make 988 and general mental health discussions part of the fabric of growing up."
The day concluded with a legislative roundtable featuring Rep. Tim Reeder, MD; Rep. Carla Cunningham, BSN, RN; Sen. Jim Burgin; and Sen. Sydney Batch, JD, MSW. The policymakers discussed their legislative priorities, including the dire lack of mental health care access for children and youth across much of the state, as well as the need to recruit health care workers who will remain to work in our most rural areas.
The event was also an opportunity to network and spend time with colleagues from across the state. A timeline of the NCIOM celebrated milestones over the past 40 years, and Board Chair Dr. Carrie Rosario and Associate Director Michelle Ries made remarks thanking President & CEO Kathleen Colville for her service to the organization as she transitions out of leadership at the end of this year.
The 2023 NCIOM Annual Meeting was sponsored by:
Presenting Sponsor: The Duke Endowment
Partner Sponsor: Hopestar Foundation
Gold Sponsors: WellCare and NCDHHS
Silver Sponsors: Aetna and Community Care Physician Network
Friend of the NCIOM Sponsors: Carolina Complete Health, North Carolina Psychiatric Association, and the North Carolina Pediatric Society
To read the full program and bios of all speakers and panelists, click here.
To read the data handout, click here.