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Mental and behavioral health

Advising the Office of the Surgeon General on initiatives to improve child mental health

APA experts respond to senior staff request in the Office of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, to discuss ways the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism have impacted the mental health of children and youth and how the surgeon general’s office might respond.

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American Psychological Association. (2021, November 9). Advising the Office of the Surgeon General on initiatives to improve child mental health.

two young children holding hands

The Office of U.S. Surgeon General (OSG) is one of the great bully pulpits in the federal government. The surgeon general has the ideal platform to convene federal and private partners to take action to improve health. APA was delighted to be consulted by their office for information about improving child mental health. The OSG asked APA’s views on ways to help people make sense of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on children and youth; how to shine a spotlight on longstanding mental health challenges for those age groups; and actionable evidence-based recommendations APA supports. The APA Advocacy Office first rallied staff to respond quickly to the surgeon general’s request and returned a letter with recommendations and resources.

Chief Advocacy Officer Katherine McGuire pulled together a small group of experts, including Parinda Khatri, PhD, of Cherokee Health of Knoxville, Tennessee; Eric Butter, PhD, of Nationwide Children’s in Columbus, Ohio; and Sharon Berry, PhD, of Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis to provide first-hand experiences as psychologists They were joined by Mitch Prinstein, PhD, APA’s chief science officer.

The OSG is developing a surgeon general’s advisory (similar in structure to an advisory on health misinformation (PDF, 275KB) from July) on the issue of child and youth mental health, and is consulting with other groups to determine ways the office may have impact to improve child mental health. APA will continue to work with experts to bring the best of psychological science and practice to this partnership.

For more information, contact Pat Kobor.

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