Saturday, February 24th the Alachua County PTA held its Inaugural Summit: Keeping Kids Safe at the Harrell Medical Education Building at the UF Health Science Center.
The event took topics from the headlines related to Alachua County and put together a panel of local experts to define issues and inform parents and educators about programs and resources available in the community.
The experts discussed two topics: (1) child trafficking and (2) children’s mental health and the opioid crisis. UF Department of Psychiatry, Assistant Professor, Miriam Rahmani, MD was a member of the panel. Dr. Rahmani spoke about the opioid crisis and the prevalence of opioid use in adolescents. She informed the participants of the diagnostic criteria for opioid use disorder, the psychiatric comorbidies common in opioid (mis)users, and warning signs parents and educators might look for in adolescents.
Speaking from the youth perspective on the panel was Olivia Kabat. Kabat is a UF student in recovery from UF Health Florida Recovery Center and active in youth/student alternative activities.
The third member of the Children’s Mental Health and the Opioid Crisis panel was Chris Napoli. Napoli is in the UF ARNP program studying to become a mental health councilor and is the mother of two children with disabilities.
UF Health Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine Business Development Manager, Rebecca Lukowski, served as one of the organizers of the event and represented UF Health with a table to provide information about UF Health services relating to child and adolescent mental health and opioid use to parents and educators. Lukowski and Alachua County PTA President, Khan Lin, are also members of the Alachua County Opioid Task Force. They are starting a speakers bureau to give similar presentations to local schools and businesses. If you are interested in having a speaker come to your organization or event, please contact Rebecca Lukowski at LUKOWR@shands.ufl.edu.