Florida Gulf Coast University’s College of Education is committed to responsive educational
practices. The COE’s Annual Children and Youth Mental Health Conference aims to reduce
stigma by increasing a general awareness of mental health disorders in children and
youth in the community stakeholders. Information presented at the conference contributes
to the participants’ development of knowledge and skills for addressing mental health
needs. This conference creates opportunities for all stakeholders to dialog, collaborate,
and champion together for children’s mental health.
It was reported that approximately 20% of children and adolescents in the U.S. experience
a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder each year (Adelman & Taylor, 2010; National
Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2009; World Health Organization, 2003).
Additionally, the state of children’s mental health greatly impacts schools in that
mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders interfere with school success (Adelman
& Taylor, 2010; O’Connell, Boat, & Warner, 2009; Paternite & Johnson, 2005; Waxman,
Weist, & Benson, 1999). Collaboration between various school personnel, community
mental health agencies, and families can provide students with a full continuum of
mental health support in school (Phillippo & Kelly, 2014).
Every conference has some common components. These include community organizations
as vendors, a lived experience presentation, a keynote presentation, and a variety
of breakout sessions intended for educators, mental health providers, and parents/advocates.
The conference is well attended with approximately 400 participants each year. Additionally,
the evaluation surveys indicate many of the attendees return to the conference year
after year. The feedback from those surveys is overwhelmingly positive and one of
the highlights is the keynote presenters.
We have been fortunate over the years to have lots of community support, from small
gift donations to large monetary contributions. Some examples of community support
are David Lawrence Center, Publix, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Costco, Edison National
Bank, George H. Knott (Attorney at Law), Southwest Florida Community Foundation, SalusCare,
Park Royal Hospital, Hazelden, The Hunter Institute, Early Learning Coalition, The
School District of Lee County, Storm Smart, The Foundation of Lee County Public Schools,
Ryvor, and personal contributions from community mental health advocates.
For opportunities to support future conferences, contact Diane Kratt, Ed. D. firstname.lastname@example.org