On October 21, 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Child
and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and Children’s Hospital Associations
1 declared a national
emergency in children’s mental health. On December 7, 2021, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek
Murthy then issued a new Surgeon General’s Advisory to amplify the urgent need to address
the nation’s youth mental health crisis. This crisis directly correlates to the COVID-19 pandemic
and adds to pre-existing challenges.

Families in communities across Orange County, in all socioeconomic circles, are struggling to
adjust to a “new normal” that keeps shifting and changing. In light of this crisis, the Orange
County Resilience Project (OCRP), a cross-sector coalition that seeks to promote a resilient,
supportive, and inclusive community, recommends the following to help support the wellbeing
of children and their families in Orange County. ALL these resources are available at NO COST,
and these steps provide an excellent foundation that will support children’s mental health:

1) Adopt and implement trauma-informed, resilience-building, and healing-centered
approaches that support social and emotional wellbeing in all school districts, medical
practices, human service organizations, law enforcement, and other providers, using
the following steps:

  •  Implement Handle with Care in partnership with local law enforcement in all OC K-
    12 Schools. Contact Deputy Commissioner Lacey Trimble at the Orange County
    Department of Mental Health at (845) 291-2603 or
  • Adopt, use, incorporate, recommend the Choose Love program in schools, medical
    practices, human services programs, and home. Contact Stacey Orzell at

  • Build organizational capacity by sending your staff/faculty to an 8-hour virtual
    professional development training on
    Trauma-Responsive, Resilience-Building,
    approach offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension on February
    16 and 17
    , 9 am – 1 pm, with future dates TBD. Contact Julika von Stackelberg at
    (845) 344-1234 or

2) Train all staff members who work with children, youth, and families to attend a Youth
Mental Health First Aid training. Upcoming training dates:

3) Aim to build a shared/organizational understanding of the impact of trauma on the
immediate and long-term health and wellbeing of children and their families and
factors that build resilience among elected officials and community organizations,
using the following step:

  • Organize in-house 1-hour workshops. Contact Cornell Cooperative Extension at
    (845) 344-1234 or

4) Promote the Strengthening Families Protective Factor Framework among
professionals and organizations working with children, youth, and families. For training
or workshops, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension at (845) 344-1234 or