Erase The Stigma! – Part 2

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Last week we reviewed some of the findings in the 2017 State of Mental Health in America Report in America revealing 56% of American adults with a mental illness did not receive treatment and the dismal disparities in diagnosis of treatment especially amongst African Americans and in particular those living below the poverty line.

This week we touch o how mental health also affects our most vulnerable. Did you know that according to the same report, rates of youth depression rose considerably from 8.5% in 2011 to over 11% in 2014? Of those diagnosed with depression, even severe depression, 80% are left with no or insufficient treatment. Thrive NYC: A Mental Health Roadmap for All (2015), reports 8% of New York City public high school students report attempting suicide.

Did you know, that despite critical health issues affecting our children’s health such as poor nutrition, physical inactivity, asthma and STD’S; mental health disorders are among the most common health issue facing our nation’s school-aged children? What is the solution? According to the State of Mental Health Report and other mental health resources it really all boils down to 3 principles:

  1. Early intervention and support. Guiding school aged students (particularly in early childhood) through social and emotional learning; helping them to recognize emotions that are happening within themselves first so that they can better understand the emotions of others (in other words developing empathy.)
  2. School based services. Integrate these social-emotional skills through organized, evidence-based, school-supported mental health and preventive services so that children may get the care and support they need build a foundation of social-emotional skills during such a critical stage of development. [Source: Thrive: A mental health roadmap for all, 2015]
  3. Watch our language! We need to be careful and purposeful about the language we are using to describe mental illness; even if the intention is not to cause harm. Phrases like “you’re so retarded”, “you cray-cray” and similar expressions are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous because they contribute to the stigmatization of mental illness, which keeps people from seeking help in the first place – in particular young people.

According to a 2016 Children’s Mental Health Report one in five children suffers from a mental health or learning disorder, and 80% of chronic mental disorders that begin in childhood. The report goes on to note the urgent need to identify the signs of these conditions early in life if children are to get the care and support they need to thrive. [Source: Child Mind 2016-childrens-mental-health-report/]

The City has many free and low-cost mental health services for children and adolescents. In addition to the listings below, call 311 for more information. You can also call The Mental Health Association of New York City’s 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week mental health crisis hotline 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355) or text: “WELL” to 65173.