Amelia Knisely Published

State Launches Online Chat For Parents Seeking Child Mental Health Support

Caring Embrace, Child Services

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources launched a new online resource to help parents and caregivers confidentially seek mental health support for their children.

There has been an uptick in child mental health issues spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent report showed nationwide, from 2016 to 2021, youth mental health inpatient admissions rose 61 percent and emergency department visits rose 20 percent.

DHHR’s Kids Thrive Collaborative is hosting weekly and free online chats where participants can privately ask questions about mental and behavioral health resources and what it looks like to navigate that process. The chats, which will run through the fall, are every Tuesday at 12 p.m.

“We had learned that parents really didn’t know about different resources that our state had to offer, and there are also the misconceptions that everything led to CPS and law enforcement when it came to accessing services,” said Marilyn Pierce, DHHR assistant to the cabinet secretary for Children Programs. Pierce oversees the online information sessions.

The virtual sessions are part of DHHR’s ongoing investment in community-based services. Following a 2014 investigation by the Department of Justice into the state’s handling of kids with serious mental health issues, DHHR is required to expand community-based mental health services and reduce the number of children in residential mental health treatment facilities.

Registration for the virtual information sessions is available here.