Conference addresses youth mental health

For those caring for youth with social, emotional and behavioral challenges, it’s easy to feel alone. The Children Come First Conference Nov. 16-17 in the Wisconsin Dells is an opportunity for caregivers to connect with each other and learn from experts on children’s mental health.

As USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s Kids in Crisis series has shown, Wisconsin has high rates of youth dealing with mental health challenges that are often unaddressed. According to a 2015 survey, more than half of adolescents who had major depressive episodes did not receive treatment for depression. The youth suicide rate is among the highest in the nation.

The Children Come First Conference is organized by Wisconsin Family Ties, a peer support and advocacy network of families with children who have social, emotional, behavioral and mental health challenges.

Workshops at the conference cover subjects like understanding self-injury, avoiding disciplinary action at school, preventing suicide, and addressing eating disorders.

Speakers include Amy Bleuel, founder of Project Semicolon; Tamra Oman from the Wisconsin Resource Center; Pete Feigel, a popular speaker who has lived with bipolar and multiple sclerosis; and Barry Duncan, director of the Heart and Soul of Change Project.

The conference costs $185 to attend. Registration is open online.

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