How They're Doing and How We Can Help

Program date: Feb. 11, 2022

Air date: Feb. 14, 2022

From The City Club of Eugene:

In fall 2021, a coalition of the nation’s leading experts in pediatric health—including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Children’s Hospital Association—issued a joint declaration of national emergency in child and adolescent mental health.

Two months later, in December 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy took the unusual step of issuing an “Advisory on Protecting Youth Mental Health,” which highlighted the nation’s youth mental health crisis.

All this was before the omicron variant became national news, coupled with a new round of uncertainty, school closures, and familial stress. We know adults have struggled to maintain their mental health during this challenging time—how are children doing?

“Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide — and rates have increased over the past decade,” wrote U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. “The COVID-19 pandemic further altered children and youth’s experiences at home, school, and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating.”

This City Club of Eugene program will help us to better understand children’s mental health needs and what is uniquely challenging about these times. Experts in counseling, psychology, and education from the University, PeaceHealth, and Lane County will share thoughts on how we can better recognize and support children’s mental health needs and how to access to high-quality, culturally competent mental health care.


Dr. Beth Stormshak is the Director of the Prevention Science Institute at the University of Oregon and the Philip H. Knight Chair and Department Head of the Counseling Psychology and Human Services department in the College of Education. Her research focuses on understanding risk factors in early and middle childhood associated with the development of problem behavior in late adolescence, including substance use and delinquency. Her primary research focus includes testing the efficacy of family-centered interventions, such as the Family Check-Up, that reduce the later risk of problem behavior. She also studies the process of dissemination of evidence-based interventions into real world community settings. She has worked collaboratively with a variety of service providers, including elementary and middle schools in the state of Oregon as well as community mental health agencies. She holds a B.A from the University of Washington and an M.A in Clinical Psychology and a Ph.D in Child Clinical Psychology from Pennsylvania State University.

llen Thornton-Love, LCSW, has been the Clinical Supervisor for Lane County Behavioral Health Child and Adolescent program since 2015. Ms. Thornton-Love has specialized training in child development and an interest in treating children and adolescents with trauma, complicated grief, attachment issues, and mood disorders. Thornton-Love has post graduate training in play therapy, family systems therapy, family structural therapy, and child-parent psychotherapy. She serves in several advisory groups, including the Systems of Care Committee, the Early Childhood Mental Health Committee, and Lane County’s Suicide Prevention Committee. Ellen Thornton-Love earned an MSW in clinical social work at Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as BAs in psychology and history.

Jessica Swensen is a psychiatric occupational therapist with PeaceHealth’s Child and Family Behavioral Health and Young Adult Behavioral Health.

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By Betty C. Giordano

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