A core component of the Division of Child and Adolescent Mental Health is advocacy. Our child mental health providers practice advocacy in a wide variety of ways from helping children find their voice within the family, to supporting the development of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), to working with legislators on policy initiatives. Leadership at the Pediatric Mental Health Institute (PMHI) has partnered with the Legislative Affairs team at Children’s Hospital Colorado to develop strategic initiatives on child behavioral health.

In order to amplify the voice of youth in advocacy initiatives, the Youth Action Board (YAB) at the Children’s Hospital Colorado’s PMHI was created by the Department of Psychiatry in 2013. The mission of the YAB is to educate and empower teens to speak up about mental health issues with an ultimate goal to raise awareness and reduce stigma. The YAB is comprised 16-17-year-olds from Denver metro high schools who work alongside faculty and staff at the PMHI to implement projects to promote social change.

In order to teach critical advocacy skills, the Division of Child and Adolescent Mental Health offers an advocacy course. This helps to ensure that faculty have the necessary skills to be effective at advocating for youth mental health needs when attending events at the legislature, testifying when new laws are being considered, and writing letters to the editor.