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News Items – September 6, 2017

Christie Appelhanz: Task force must focus on abuse and neglect prevention
The Topeka Capital-Journal
This commentary is signed by one organization, but the author speaks for many. The views expressed here are shared by the Kansas African American Foster Care/Adoption Coalition, Kansas Appleseed, Kansas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Kansas Family Advisory Network, and Kansas Foster and Adoptive Parent Association. The law creating the task force wisely gave its members discretion to study “any other topic the child welfare system task force or working group deems necessary or appropriate.” We all urge them to use that discretion and prioritize child abuse and neglect prevention. Doing so is the best way to make this the last child welfare task force Kansas kids ever need.

Sherry Ellis is a member:
Trump declares Opioid ‘National Emergency’: 3 healthcare impacts
Modern Medicine Network
An example of a national emergency and public health crisis occurred in Puerto Rico with the Zika virus and the widespread concern of a potential pandemic. “The crucial part of this declaration is that it mobilizes resources and brings noteworthy attention to the problem,” says Sherry Ellis, LICSW, ACSW, chief operating officer, Spectrum Health Systems, Inc., Worcester, Massachusetts.

Health Issues Stack Up In Houston As Harvey Evacuees Seek Shelter
At the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, licensed clinical social worker Brittany Burch showed up to help some of the thousands of people who have taken shelter there. As she tells NPR, she’s already seeing and hearing a lot of distress. “A lot of people really overwhelmed, stories of having to jump in a boat or get a helicopter out, wade through waist-high water, losing everything,” she says. “So just a lot of people in shock, trying to adjust to what’s happened and what happens from here.”

When athletes share their battles with mental illness
Swimmer Allison Schmitt executed a flip turn, as she’d done many thousands of times before, as she competed in an event in Austin, Texas, in 2015. And then, out of nowhere, midway through the 400-meter freestyle, she quit. “That last 200 meters I was like, (expletive) this,” she says. “I knew I gave up, but I didn’t know why.” The answer, as it turned out, was what she calls “the invisible illness” — depression.… This, Schmitt says, is why she is pursuing her master’s degree at Arizona State to become a licensed clinical social worker and counselor. (She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia in psychology.) She realized after her cousin’s suicide that mental health struggles should not be hidden.

Shannon Terrell Gordon, the writer, is a member:
It’s time to destigmatize chemical dependency and mental health conditions
This summer, our community was rocked by the sudden and tragic deaths of at least four Central Georgians due to poisonous tablets sold on the streets disguised as a prescription pain killer. Since 2000, deaths from drug overdoses have increased 137 percent, including a 200 percent increase in overdose deaths involving opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control in 2016. If overdose dangers weren’t enough, 1 in 4 Americans will face a mental health challenge in their lifetime. One in seven who drink or use drugs will experience addiction. Many times mental health conditions and substance abuse go hand-in-hand as individuals try to cope. There is, however, good news. Treatment is effective, and recovery can be expected.

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