Orange County Government, Florida
21 October 2014
Youth Mental Health Commission
Implementation Work Begins
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs addresses the Youth Mental Health Commission
Implementation Team at the Board of County Commissioners Chambers on Monday.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ Youth Mental Health Commission Implementation Team met on Monday to begin the work of accomplishing the goals set by the Youth Mental Health Commission.

“Building on the recommendations of the Youth Mental Health Commission, we’re going to make sure that parents know how and where to get help, and that our system of care improves to properly and adequately address children’s mental health issues,” Mayor Jacobs said at the meeting. “We must break down the stigma associated with seeking mental health care, and we must do it before children become adults - still undiagnosed and treated, and still suffering. For the health and happiness of our children as well as our entire community, we must continue to keep this issue at the forefront.”

The Youth Mental Health Commission, founded in August 2013, was a 20-member group comprised of elected officials, law enforcement and community leaders. The Commission was focused on developing new strategies and initiatives to address children’s mental health in Orange County.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, four million children and adolescents nationwide suffer from a serious mental disorder. In Orange County, there were more than 2,000 psychiatric hospitalizations of children up to age 17 in 2013, which contributed to 54 documented suicides of young people from 2011 to 2013.

The Commission, which held its final meeting in April 2013, recommended forming an implementation group comprised of community leaders and committed citizens to oversee the changes in handling youth mental health issues in Orange County. Mayor Jacobs assembled the Youth Mental Health Commission Implementation Team with the goal of accomplishing the group’s final recommendations including:

  • Developing a strategy to establish financial sustainability for youth mental health in Orange County
  • Providing a current estimate of resources available for youth mental health including prevention, early identification and treatment
  • Identifying the gaps in resources, both financial and human, to implement the proposed changes

“There are some original members with institutional knowledge of the work done, and some new members that will help strategize partnerships, funding and alignment of resources for children and families,” said Donna Wyche, Division Manager of Mental Health and Homeless Issues for Orange County Health Services. “The mental health of our children is of utmost importance, and we are fortunate that our Mayor understands and supports this issue.”

The Implementation Team has begun putting together a plan, both short and long-term, prioritizing the recommendations of the Youth Mental Health Commission and creating a way to implement them in the community.

A collection of photos from the Youth Mental Health Commission Implementation Team meeting are available on Flickr for use by the media.