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SAMHSA Hosts Town Hall on Helping Children Who Experience Trauma

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HHS Secretary, Health Care Professionals, Governors’ Spouses, and Youth and Family Leaders Gather for an Interactive Dialogue on Collaboration to Address Trauma

Nearly half (46 percent) of the nation’s youth report having experienced at least one traumatic event.1 Given the serious impact that trauma can have on the mental health of children, youth, and young adults, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is convening a town hall on strategies for connecting those who have experienced trauma with treatment and services. Governors’ spouses, youth and family leaders, senior federal officials, and the executives from leading professional health organizations will participate in the event.

“The trauma experienced by many children and youth is a serious concern. Health and mental health professionals must offer a coordinated response that focuses on evidence-based treatment practices,” said Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Elinore McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D. “While the data reveal the frequency and impact of trauma, the findings also show that trauma-informed care improves health outcomes.”

To improve a child’s functioning—such as school performance and interactions with family members—after a traumatic event, SAMHSA’s Children’s Mental Health Initiative uses a network of community-based services known as “systems of care” to provide high-quality wrap-around services and supports. In addition, SAMHSA’s National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative develops evidence-based interventions for clinicians and systems that serve children, adolescents, and families.

The National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day national event, Awareness Day 2018: “Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma,” is being hosted by SAMHSA on Thursday, May 10, at 7 p.m. EDT in Washington, DC, at The George Washington University’s Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre. NBC4 Washington anchor Aaron Gilchrist will host the event and moderate the town hall. In-person audience members and those viewing the live webcast will have the opportunity to join the conversation by asking questions of the speakers.

As part of the event, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar II will present SAMHSA Special Recognition Awards to the spouses of 18 governors along with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) for their work to address youth mental health and to promote trauma-informed care in their states. The governors’ spouses and NCAI Executive Director Jacqueline Pata will also serve as Honorary Chairpersons of Awareness Day 2018.

The following individuals will be recognized with a SAMHSA Special Recognition Award and will serve as Honorary Chairpersons. Those in bold are confirmed to attend the event.

  • Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director, National Congress of American Indians
  • First Lady Donna Walker (Alaska)
  • First Lady Angela Ducey (Arizona)
  • First Lady Susan Hutchinson (Arkansas)
  • First Lady Diana Rauner (Illinois)
  • First Lady Glenna Bevin (Kentucky)
  • First Lady Donna Edwards (Louisiana)
  • First Lady Yumi Hogan (Maryland)
  • First Lady Lauren Baker (Massachusetts)
  • First Lady Deborah Bryant (Mississippi)
  • First Lady Sheena Greitens (Missouri)
  • First Lady Kristin Cooper (North Carolina)
  • First Gentleman Wade Christensen (Oklahoma)
  • First Lady Linda Daugaard (South Dakota)
  • First Lady Crissy Haslam (Tennessee)
  • First Lady Cecilia Abbot (Texas)
  • First Lady Jeanette Herbert (Utah)
  • First Lady Trudi Inslee (Washington)
  • First Lady Tonette Walker (Wisconsin)

For more information about Awareness Day or to view the live webcast of the event, visit

Follow the hashtag #HeroesofHope to join the conversation about Awareness Day 2018.

1 Health Resources and Services Administration’s National Survey of Children’s Health

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes.

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