Recently, One in Five Minds, a children’s mental health advocacy campaign led by Clarity Child Guidance Center, hosted its fourth Strong Minds and Happy Hearts event at Memorial High School on April 14. With a meal and free childcare provided at no cost to attendees, barriers to participating were removed. This event designed for parents, caregivers, teachers and advocates helps to break the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Stigma prevents society from viewing mental illness as an actual illness, and often leads to delayed or non-treatment.
Through facilitated table conversations prompted by the questions, “Why is children’s mental health important to you and your community?” and “What can we, as individuals, do to help the youth in our community?” small groups of attendees were encouraged to share their thoughts and perspectives. Using those conversations as fuel for further engagement, attendees chose to participate in one of six breakout sessions:
- warning signs of mental or emotional problems
- mental health treatment options
- prevention of and treatment for addiction in children
- how to work with the school to help your child
- working with the juvenile system to help your child
- finding support groups and respite opportunities for caregivers
After the breakout sessions, many of the attendees participated in the “Tell Your Story” exercise in which they wrote out their thoughts, reactions to the information, and their own stories of the struggles they or their loved ones’ experience with mental illness.
One attendee said, “This was so helpful. I’ve known that I’m not alone, but this evening I saw with my own eyes that there are others just like me. I’ve learned so much.” It was a rewarding evening of sharing, learning and breaking down the stigma of mental illness.
One in Five Minds thanks NIX Behavioral Health Services, Memorial High School, Edgewood ISD, Worldwide Languages and Clarity Child Guidance Center and dozens of volunteers for their support of Strong Minds, Happy Hearts.