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New Partnership – Connect Washoe County – seeks to improve behavioral, youth and adolescent health (sponsored)


In Washoe County, four local organizations have created Connect Washoe County (CWC) to serve youth and families with a focus on mental health, substance misuse and youth/adolescent health. 

According to the 2020 Community Health Needs Assessment conducted by Renown Health, there are health indicators that have changed over time, signifying the need for more mental health resources in our community. In 2017, 16.30% of teens felt sad or hopeless. That number jumped in 2019 to 40.20%. Washoe County continues to trend higher than the state average for suicide attempts. Additionally, according to 2019 YRBS data, Washoe County youth continue to trend upwards in use of alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, and vaping with one in four 11th and 12th graders reported using marijuana. Emerging data from the CDC after the start of the pandemic indicates youth are increasingly isolated and facing greater mental health challenges than before.

“Suicide among young people continues to be a serious problem in Washoe County,” said Dr. Anthony Slonim, CEO of Renown Health. 

Renown Health hosted a survey in early Fall of 2020, seeking input from the community on the health issues considered most important and overwhelmingly access to mental health treatment and mental health resources were the top identified need in Washoe County. 

“It is such an honor to be a part of Connect Washoe County,” said Misty Vaughan Allen, State Suicide Prevention Coordinator. “Improving connectedness among individuals and across systems increases the possibility of help, and therefore hope, especially for those who might be more isolated.” 

Student forums conducted by the Washoe County School District during the 2020-21 school year confirm this need. At a student town hall event on social-emotional wellness hosted by the Student Advisory Council, students reported increased experiences of anxiety and depression. 

“What we discovered is that [students] don’t feel comfortable going to an adult when they are struggling with their mental health,” said Ivy Batmale, Student Vice President. 

“Community linkages and partnerships are vital to the success of all families in Washoe County,” said Dr. Paul LaMarca, Chief Strategies Officer with WCSD, who is committed to supporting the social-emotional well-being of students and their families.

Under the leadership of The Children’s Cabinet, CWC has prepared a three-year strategy to better support youth and families through community collaboration starting 2021 through 2024.

“By creating robust networks of professional and paraprofessional community agencies including government, non-profit, faith-based, narrow-scoped, broad-scoped, large, and small, CWC will be able to maximize efforts in all areas of mental health and youth suicide prevention by assuring accurate identification of service gaps,” said Kim Young, Executive Director of The Children’s Cabinet.

  • Year One: Create and strengthen linkages in the community. For those interested in joining this collaboration, please contact Children’s Cabinet Department Director, Jacquelyn Kleinedler ([email protected])
  • Year Two: Identify strategies to fill service and support gaps.
  • Year Three: Assure sustainability and economic viability. 

Families in need of mental health resources, substance misuse treatment resources, or youth/adolescent health resources can contact The Children’s Cabinet at 775-352-8090 or visit the website.

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