girl with phone

ABHI Children’s Mental Health Initiative

The Crisis

The past few years have been increasingly difficult for children and youth across the nation. Over 140,000 have lost a caregiver due to COVID-19 and hundreds of thousands more have struggled with pandemic-related disruptions to school and family life. The effects of this instability are clear: Research shows that symptoms of depression and anxiety in youth have doubled over the last two years.

In late 2021, these developments led the American Academy of Pediatrics to declare a national state of emergency in children’s mental health.

The Office of the U.S. Surgeon General also released a report documenting the increase in mental health challenges among young people and providing actionable recommendations to combat the crisis.

Children’s mental health needs have also grown exponentially across the Arrowhead region over the last two years. Existing services do not have the capacity to meet current needs in a timely manner nor adequately address this crisis.

Addressing these challenges requires a coordinated and combined approach from across Northeastern Minnesota.

Our Response

In June of 2021, the Arrowhead Behavioral Health Initiative (ABHI) convened a Children’s Mental Health Cabinet with the goal of creating a responsive, representative, sustainable leadership structure to support the needs of children and families in the Arrowhead region.

Through this Children’s Cabinet, seven counties, three tribal nations, three community mental health centers and two community health boards have come together to develop a process to engage regional partners and stakeholders.

The goal is to create a more comprehensive regional children’s mental health continuum so that children and families can access appropriate services close to home.

The Children’s Cabinet will operate using Incident Command Structure (ICS), an organizational structure specifically designed for emergency situations. ICS supports well-defined leadership, communication, planning and accountability, and will be used to establish a coordinated, regional approach to facilitate sustainable collaboration and successful outcomes.

Get Involved

Work groups or ICS “branches” are being formed to identify and promote existing resources and develop services and expand capacity to meet needs. An overview of each of the currently established work groups is included in the Work Group section. At the present time, all groups are meeting virtually.

Work Groups

Regional Children’s Mental Health Initiative – Upcoming meeting dates for working groups/ICS branches
Each facilitated one-hour meeting will be held via zoom. The zoom registration link for each meeting is below. All those who attended the first meeting or requested to be on the distribution list automatically receive a zoom meeting invitation. Otherwise, registration is required.

Please share this invitation and encourage others to register for areas of interest.

Please contact me if you have any questions or if you would like to receive future meeting invitations for a group or groups.

Barb Caskey (she/her)
Regional Access Coordinator
Cell: (218) 340-5099

Two girls walking down hallway


To inquire about opportunities to support this work, please contact us!



Please continue to visit our resources section, as this will be continually updated and added to. This is not currently intended to be a complete list of children’s mental health resources in the region.

Youth Mental Health Articles:

The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory Kids Are Back in School and Struggling With Mental Health Why We Need to Stop Politicizing Children’s Mental Health This article was originally published by the Washington Post. References and links in this PDF are inactive. Click here for the full article.

To join our email list or an existing work group, comment on your work group of interest or suggest a work group, please fill out the contact form below:

Contact Us