What approaches can be used to identify champions?
Champions, internal or external to the health department, can help promote and support efforts to assess and improve CAMH. Using champions to promote health is an evidence-based practice that can be adapted for CAMH 7. Champions do not necessarily need to hold leadership positions within the organization. They can simply be passionate and dedicated individuals willing to put in effort to improve and advocate on behalf of the initiative 8. Qualities such as leadership, collaboration, and innovation may help champions overcome obstacles and cement key relationships.
Talking points for engaging partners and identifying champions
These key messages can be used when speaking to partners, the community, or internal leadership about the important role that public health can play in assessing and improving CAMH.
- All children have mental health.
Mental health is not a set of diagnosed disorders, and it is not the mere absence of a diagnosed disorder. It is the mental, emotional, and behavioral capacities in each child that equip them to function well where they live, learn, and play. Children’s mental health varies over time and is something that can be built, nurtured, promoted, and protected. As described in an early childhood mental health brief from Harvard, “Most potential mental health problems will not become mental health disorders if we respond to them early9.”
- Public health can play a key role in assessing and improving CAMH.
Public health is in a strong position to use its surveillance expertise to assess and improve CAMH and bring together groups of interested partners, bridging some of the silos. CAMH is influenced by multiple indicators, including genetics, prenatal exposures, adverse childhood experiences, social determinants of health, caregivers, and systems and policies. Due to the complex and diverse group of factors that influence CAMH, it is important for public health to identify and collaborate with a diverse group of partners to assess and improve CAMH.
- There are indicators that can be used by public health to assess and improve CAMH.
Public health can use indicators such as school attendance, school disciplinary actions, and school readiness as a starting point to assess and improve CAMH. These indicators have the potential to provide useful information about the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. They are based on data that are already being collected and can be used to monitor population-level CAMH at a wide range of child and adolescent ages (e.g., early childhood through high school).