Best Practices in Trauma-Informed Behavioral Health Care & Workforce Development to Improve Outcomes for Children, Adolescents, and Families in Underserved Communities

Children's Mental Health Matters 

Conference Hosted by the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Initiative (CAMHI)
A Funded Partner of Boston Children’s Collaboration for Community Health

Boston Children's Collaboration for Community Health


Presenters & Moderators: Bethany Casarjian, PhD; Crystal Collier; Keith Connors; Natalie Cort, PhD; Bruce Ecker, PhD; Kelly English, PhD, LICSW; Melinda Gushwa, PhD; Jeff E. Joseph; Neena McConnico, PhD, LMHC; Alisa Miller, PhD; Carl Miranda; Emma Peterson, PhD; Will Vilas-Novas & Catherine Vuky, PhD

Two decades ago, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Children’s Mental Health concluded that “the burden of suffering by children with mental health needs and their families has created a major health crisis in this country” (Department of Health & Human Services [DHHS], 1999). Presently, 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the U.S. has a mental disorder (Merikangas et al., 2010). Yet, more than 80% of youth who are living with a mental illness do not receive any care (Institute of Medicine, 2009). Untreated childhood mental disorders place a significant burden on our society, as they are the most costly and prevalent of all chronic childhood illnesses. Approximately $247 billion are spent annually in treatment and productivity losses related to untreated childhood mental illnesses (Institute of Medicine, 2009). 

Racial minority and immigrant youth are at high risk for mental illnesses due to chronic exposure to trauma, community violence, racism, and other forms of adverse childhood experiences. Despite these well-known risk factors, ethnic and racial minority children and families are less likely to access, utilize, and complete mental health services (Alegría et al., 2014). Moreover, when mental health services are provided to these groups, they are often culturally inappropriate, inadequate or fragmented (DHHS, 2000). Historically, ethnic, racial and sexual minority individuals in the U.S. have experienced significant barriers in accessing high-quality mental health care (Mental Health America, 2018). Several systemic variables have been attributed to increased mental health disparities among individuals and groups from historically marginalized backgrounds. These include poverty, racism, mistreatment and misdiagnosis in health care settings, and race-based exclusion in access to health, educational, social, and economic resources (Mays et al., 2017). Two additional contributing factors are (1) the dearth of culturally-appropriate, trauma-informed, and evidence-based prevention and intervention programs for underserved communities; and (2) a critical shortage of trained behavioral health providers who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (Alegría et al., 2014; U.S. Department of Health Resources and Services Administration, 2018).

This Conference brings together thought leaders and experts in the fields of education, behavioral health and workforce development to exchange knowledge on trauma-informed and culturally-responsive mental health care for children and families in underserved communities; and address best practices in the recruitment, training, and retention of culturally diverse providers. A new approach to building a diversified behavioral health workforce is urgently needed to reduce the burden of mental illness on children and their families, eliminate disparities in access to and utilization of mental health services, and ensure that culturally competent care is readily available to underserved youth and families throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.

Specific learning objectives:

  1. Identify opportunities and challenges in addressing the mental health needs of children, adolescents, and families from historically marginalized backgrounds. 
  2. Describe trauma-informed, evidence-based, and culturally-responsive behavioral health services for children, adolescents, and families in underserved communities.
  3. Share best practices in educational and clinical training to diversify the child and adolescent behavioral health workforce. 
  4. Describe innovative pipeline programs that provide educational opportunities and career pathways to increase enrollment, retention and success of high school, community college and graduate students from culturally diverse backgrounds. 

Program Code: CMHM20
Credits: 6
Fees: $50 for general admission; $25 for students; $100 for CE credits

Lunch will be provided.

No additional discounts are available for this event.


  • When

  • Saturday, May 1, 2021
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Eastern Time

  • Where

  • William James College
    1 Wells Avenue
    Newton, Massachusetts 02459

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