First Spouses bring children's mental health ideas to Washington

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Children's mental health is in the spotlight in Washington. Tonight, governors’ spouses from across the country are participating in an awareness event, hosted by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The goal is to discuss best practices for helping kids.

First Lady Linda Daugaard says it takes the whole state coming together to address children's mental health issues.

“I think it’s just general knowledge that if you get all the spouses involved, you get a better response,” said South Dakota First Lady Linda Daugaard.

Daugaard says she is focused on improving foster care in South Dakota, because of the traumatic experience that comes from a child leaving his or her home.

“I think it will take the whole state working together on trauma-informed care and looking at adverse childhood experience,” said Daugaard.

Others are focused on physical abuse, neglect, and other experiences. Wisconsin First Lady Tonette Walker says bringing these different efforts into one conversation will yield positive results.

“This could be transformational for trauma informed care because we’re at the table together, talking, listening from each other, learning from each other,” said Walker.

A key component of the discussion here is tailoring care to individual children. Dr. Gary Blau says the mental health of our children is not deteriorating, but that people are just paying more attention.

“It’s not that it’s difficult, it’s that we need to bring attention to the issue,” said Blau.

Blau says 10-percent of children develop mental health issues. He says focusing on traumatic experiences, asking kids relevant questions, and getting them the specific care needed will help at home and at school. Blau says everyone can help.

“Help them and mentor them and encourage them. And build on the strengths of that child,” said Blau.

To find out more about how you can help children who might be struggling, you can visit