A New Hampshire Where Everyone Belongs

January - February 2024

Kim Firth: Our Children Need More Equitable Health Systems

New Hampshire is better when all our children thrive, and our children thrive when they have strong communities, healthy families, and policies that support them.

This year’s data update from the New Hampshire Child Well-Being Data Hub indicates that our state is on the right track, and indicators reveal low child poverty rates, high rates of insured children, and good maternal health. But when these indicators are separated by income, race/ethnicity, or geography, a problem emerges: inequity, often exacerbated due to a lack of funding for affordable housing, healthcare, economic support, and food programs. These are symptoms of larger causes: generational poverty, lack of educational and economic development opportunities, and structural racism. Though overall indicators show that New Hampshire is a great place to grow up, the inequity is in the details – and the details tell us that many Granite State families are struggling.

Our children are struggling, too. The national child and adolescent mental health emergency, declared by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other national associations, has not bypassed the Granite State. A leading cause of death for New Hampshire youth ages 10-24 is suicide. Studies show that girls, children from communities of color, LGBTQ+ youth, and youth with disabilities are disproportionately affected by mental health challenges. And even if families can overcome long waiting lists for services and the cost of care, there is no guarantee that they will receive mental health care that is culturally relevant. The inequities built into our policies and systems are leaving some of our kids behind.

To create a more equitable mental health care system, we need to adopt solutions that center the experiences, perspectives, needs, and strengths of children, youth, and families – especially those who face significant behavioral health inequities. And we need to recognize and address the interconnected nature of the challenges that New Hampshire families face.

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Heidi Cloutier: We Are Here

In this edition of Fresh Takes, we sit down with Heidi Cloutier at the UNH Institute on Disability to talk about the We Are Here video project. The project amplifies the voices of those who have experienced challenges accessing behavioral health services in New Hampshire.

Tell us about the We Are Here Project.

Heidi: We’re working to strengthen services in our behavioral health care system to address disparities, and to better understand barriers to accessing those supports. We interviewed New Hampshire residents about their experiences accessing mental health and substance use treatment, and produced four short videos that have attempted to amplify the voices of those who have experienced challenges accessing behavioral health services. Four major themes emerged from the interviews: education, healthcare, language and communication, and access and culturally responsive care. What we heard pointed to systemic barriers. Our intention in raising up these stories is not to shame or blame anybody. As Maya Angelou said, ‘We do the best we can until we know better. And when we know better, we do better.’ We emphasize that in our facilitated discussions and presentations as well. We’re working to raise awareness, prompt sustainable change and celebrate what is working well.

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To request access to the We Are Here videos and discussion guides, please visit:

We Are Here Video Project | Institute on Disability (unh.edu)


Endowment for Health | 603-228-2448 | endowmentforhealth.org
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