Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday added to the list of actions he’s taking in the wake of the Dayton mass shooting by announcing that a statewide summit on childhood mental health will take place in the city next month.
Nine people were killed and more than 30 were injured around 1 a.m. Sunday when a gunman opened fire just outside Ned Peppers Bar in the Oregon District.
“We meet this morning really still with a shadow of the great tragedy that occurred this past weekend,” DeWine said.
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The governor’s office, along with the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, will host the summit, called “Building Resiliency. It is scheduled for Sept. 26 in Dayton.
The summit will serve as a “call to action.” He also said a downloadable book is available on his website that addresses childhood mental health.
“What we’re doing today is one more step,” DeWine said. “We want everyone to know what trauma looks like.”
The summit will allow the community to bring together the “best minds in our state and even across the country,” said Deborah Feldman, president and chief executive officer of Dayton Children’s.
One in six children face some sort of mental health challenge, Feldman said. It’s a need Dayton Children’s has tried to meet, in part by opening a new $12-million mental health unit earlier this year.
“We’ve got to do something and at Dayton Children’s we’ve seen this increased need just grow exponentially,” Felman said.
DeWine’s announcement comes just days after he released a 17 proposals designed to curb gun violence and address mental health in an effort to prevent another mass shooting in the Buckeye State.
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In the new state budget, $675 million in “wrap-around services” for schools to design individualized programs with local mental health providers and social service organizations to address social and emotional challenges of students, according to the governor’s office. The Ohio Department of Medicaid is investing $15 million in “telehealth” mental health services to students to reach children in more rural areas.
The plans he announced Tuesday included funding in the new state budget for mental health care. DeWine has also asked the General Assembly to pass legislation to free-up beds in psychiatric hospitals by creating an outpatient program for people ordered into such facilities by a court.
Ohio is one of the top state’s for children who have suffered some form of trauma, the governor said.
“We know what impact that trauma has on children,” DeWine said. “We have to do something about it.”
Not every mass shooter or murderer is mentally ill, DeWine said. But, its important to make sure childhood trauma never turns into a motivation to commit violence against oneself or others, said Mayor Nan Whaley, who joined DeWine during his announcement Thursday.
“Being preventative and being open about mental health will help us out a lot,” Whaley said. “That stigma around these issues is really enormous.”
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Dayton Children’s gave the following tips for parents to engage in conversation today and this week with their kids:
• Know which sources your kids turn to for news and information - TV or online.
• Ask your child what they’ve already heard. It’s best that your child hears about it from you, as opposed to another child or in the media but many times that can’t be avoided.
• In general, it is best to share the basic information. Be straightforward and direct so that your child knows what’s going on and avoid graphic or unnecessary details.Be aware that repetitive graphic images and sounds may appear in various forms of media and therefore try to limit, if not eliminate, those exposures.
• Discuss current events with your kids on a regular basis. It’s important to help them think through stories they hear about. Ask questions: What do you think about these events? How do you think these things happen? Such questions also encourage conversation about non-news topics.
• Put news stories in proper context. Showing that certain events are isolated or explaining how one event relates to another helps kids make better sense of what they hear.
• Watch the news with your kids, if age appropriate, to filter stories together.
• Don’t pressure your child to talk. Your well-meaning intentions may be viewed by some kids, particularly teens, as an interrogation. Show interest and concern, but not pressure.