Health and Family Services Cabinet
Help Youth Thrive in the Community
Today is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day
Health and Family Services Deputy Secretary Steve Nunn and advocates from around the state today honored National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day during a news conference at Covington Holmes High School.
Speakers also included children’s mental health advocates who discussed their personal bouts with mental illness and the importance of community services. Designed to bring children’s mental health issues to the forefront, participants encouraged attendees to help young people feel comfortable addressing mental health needs. Governor Steve Beshear proclaimed the event as a statewide observance.
“One in five children and adolescents has a mental health disorder, and one in 10 has a serious emotional disturbance, but many of our young people don’t know how to seek help,” said Nunn. “We have to erase the stigma attached to mental illness so that our young people can get the help they need and thrive in the community.”
Students Allie Caleb Rigsby, Raceland High School, and Jay Bowling, Campbell County High School, and long-time advocate Brad Williams shared personal stories about how they learned to address their own mental health needs. They encouraged the audience of students, staff and faculty to recognize signs of mental illness and openly communicate questions and concerns.
“National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day provides an important opportunity for our community to show how children and youth with mental health needs, as well as their families, thrive when they have the right supports and services available,” said Devon Lindsey, spokesperson for Kentuckians Encouraging Youth to Succeed (KEYS). “Together, with other children’s mental health initiatives, we are changing lives and improving outcomes all over the country.”
KEYS serves Pendleton, Owen, Grant, Kenton and Carroll counties, providing a system of care for communities, parents and youth to address the needs of youth with mental health needs. The program was created to form a network of community-based services and supports, such as services for children and families, mental health and substance abuse, for young people.
The Department for Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MH/MR) and KEYS strongly encourage any young person with a mental health need to seek help. Mental health issues in children and adolescents can interfere with daily life at home, at school or in the community. Without treatment, children with mental health disorders are at a higher risk for failure at school, contact with the criminal justice system and suicide.
Learn more about mental health services and supports by visiting MH/MR’s Web site at www.mhmr.ky.gov. For more information about KEYS, contact its central office at (859) 428-4100.