“What you always do before you make a decision is consult. The best public policy is made when you are listening to people who are going to be impacted. Then, once a policy is determined, you call on them to help you sell it.”
— Elizabeth Dole

"Kids with untreated mental health problems often can’t manage day-today life. An estimated 7% of California’s kids, around 690,000 children, struggle with severe mental health problems that interfere with daily activities and require treatment, proper care and support. If they go without the treatment they need, children are more likely to be hospitalized, drop out of high school, become involved with the juvenile justice system, or commit suicide."

Children Now, 2017

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Improving Adolescent Mental Health:
Identifying Opportunities and Evaluating Priorities

Key Speakers

Pia Escudero, Director, School Mental Health & Crisis Counseling Intervention Services, Los Angeles Unified School District
Vanessa Davis, Youth Services Director, Just in Time Foster Youth
Toby Ewing, Executive Director, California Mental Health Services Oversight Commission
Lynn M. Thull, Consultant, Mental Health Policy and Practice Improvement, The California Alliance
Alex Briscoe, Principal, California Children's Trust
Carrie Bearden, Professor, UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
Jonathan E. Sherin, Director, Los Angeles Department of Mental Health
Stacie Hiramoto, Director, Racial and Ethnic Mental Health Disparities Coalition

This event was held on Thursday, February 21st 2019.


In California, 1 in 13 children suffer from a mental illness that limits participation in daily activities. Economic, gender, racial and ethnic disparities indicate that people of color and low-income families experience serious mental health issues at a greater rate and have a harder time accessing treatment. Many children who deal with severe mental health issues are also in the foster care system which can make seeking treatment difficult for those who have no support and limited financial resources.

Roughly two-thirds of adolescents with mental health needs aren't receiving treatment because of the unique barriers they face. For example, the supply of acute psychiatric beds has declined over the last 15 years, making California less capable of handling severe mental health crises and providing in-patient care in comparison to the rest of the nation. Additionally, the United States is experiencing a shortage of mental health professionals that is projected to get worse in the coming decades.

California passed the Mental Health Services Act Reversion Fund (MHSARF) in September 2018, which reallocates unspent funds (within 3 years of allocation) to counties for prevention, early intervention or innovation programs. According to a recent Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) audit, most of these funds go unspent because of a lack guidance on spending and recovering unspent funds. California's decentralized insurance system also makes it difficult to pay for treatments and for patients to receive care.

Counties and cities can help even more families provided they have the right tools and advice. Given these developments, this symposium will offer delegates an opportunity to assess the successes and challenges in providing mental healthcare and implementing the MHSA. The event will focus on learning lessons, sharing experiences and overcoming challenges at state, regional and local levels with the aim of ensuring that all children and adolescents receive the targeted and compassionate care and treatment they need.


Delegates will: 

  • Assess the impact of the Mental Health Services Act and examine priorities for service provision statewide and at county level
  • Consider ways to improve service delivery through collaborating with other institutions such as schools and foster care agencies
  • Address funding issues by discussing optimal guidelines for managing MHSA funds
  • Identify potential partnerships and collaborative efforts that can improve access to service
  • Understand the role of educational leaders in safeguarding children’s mental health services and providing a safe environment for discussion and treatment
  • Discuss strategies for combatting stigma and developing a culture that proactively prioritizes mental health
  • Assess barriers to treatment for hard to reach or disadvantaged adolescents and discuss ways to ensure they have access to the services they need
  • Learn from case studies – encouraging dialogue, sharing experiences and gaining insights from successful partnerships and programs involved in service delivery





Registration and Morning Refreshments


Chair's Welcome and Introduction


Panel One

Improving Policy Measures- Increasing Efficiency, Collaboration and Cost-Effectiveness in Services across the State 

  • Discussing strategies for resolving incipient staff shortages among mental health professionals
  • Addressing funding issues by discussing optimal guidelines for managing MHSA funds
  • Identifying opportunities for community-based mental health services – providing effective support, care and treatment at the local level
  • Strategizing best practices for navigating fragmented state insurance systems  


Morning Coffee Break


Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel One


Networking Lunch


Panel Two:

Improving Services at the Local Level- Changing Culture, Promoting Collaboration and Sharing Experiences 

  • Considering strategies for combatting stigma and developing a culture that proactively prioritizes mental health
  • Discussing ways to reduce barriers faced by disadvantaged adolescents in accessing treatment
  • Evaluating existing child mental health programs - focusing on prevention and early intervention
  • Examining ways to improve service delivery through collaborating with other institutions such as schools and foster care agencies


Afternoon Coffee Break


Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel Two


Chair's Summary and Closing Comments


Networking Reception



  ** Please note that the program is subject to change without notice **



Who Should Attend?

  • California Department of Health Care Services Officials
  • Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission Officials
  • California Department of Social Services Officials
  • Children’s Bureau Officials
  • County Mental Health Service Providers
  • Community-Based Mental Health Service Providers
  • Directors of Child Mental Health Services
  • Directors of Residential Services
  • Directors of Family Services
  • Child Mental Health Program Managers
  • Child Welfare Services Managers
  • Child and Youth Program Managers
  • Child Mental Health Workers
  • Child Mental Health Recovery Managers/Officers
  • Child Mental Health Consultants
  • Child Behavioural Specialists
  • Child and Family Specialists
  • Child Advocacy Managers
  • Mental Health Technicians
  • Integrated Health Specialists
  • Health and Wellness Advisors
  • Child Psychiatrists
  • Clinicians
  • Nurses
  • Perinatal Health Workers
  • K-12 Teachers
  • Education and Child Development Specialists
  • Education Supervisors
  • Special Educational Needs Providers
  • Indian Child Welfare/Education Specialists
  • Education Caseworkers
  • Disabilities and Educational Support Workers
  • Community Health Workers
  • Social Workers
  • Child Care Workers
  • Outreach Workers
  • Child/Youth Counselors/Therapists
  • Education and Prevention Counselors
  • Child Protection Specialists
  • Mental Evaluation Officers
  • Researchers and Academics 
  • Child Psychologists 
  • Case Managers
This event was held on Thursday, February 21st 2019.

Sponsorship and Exhibition Opportunities

If you’re interested in promoting your company, products and/or services at our events, please click here to enter your details and we will contact you directly. Alternatively, please call
+1424 258 9080 for more information.

How to Book

+1424 258 9080