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Add to these statistics the fact that 79 percent of children affected by mental illness NEVER get treatment and this reality makes educating people about mental illnesses an extremely important priority.
Early childhood years are the most important time to prevent mental health disorders and promote healthy behavior. Some kids experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, and pressure to succeed at home and at school. Some kids feel left out and are targeted and bullied, or are the bullies themselves. They may develop depression and contemplate suicide or turn to harmful substances and engage in other types of risk-taking behaviors as the solution to their problems. While childhood suicide is very uncommon, deaths from suicide still occur and are the third leading cause of death among high school students in Kent County.
The Mental Health Foundation has created a ground-breaking secondary school curriculum that includes a variety of interactive lessons that help students, parents, and teachers recognize the symptoms of depression and the warning signs of suicide in themselves, a friend or family member. Our educational program also encourages students to set aside stereotypes and give fellow classmates understanding, compassion and acceptance. The educational curriculum is also designed to help young people who may be personally affected by mental illness to get past the stigma and seek treatment.
Some Interactive lesson plan topics include:
My father lost his life to suicide in the fall of 2003. I was 8 years old and I was confused and hurt, but mostly sad. I became severely depressed for five long years. My grades were slipping and every day all I thought about was the loss I felt. Then, at the end of my freshman year in high school, two representatives came to my school to teach my health class about mental illness. The program is called Live Laugh Love: Educating youth about Mental Health. After the second lesson, which was on depression, I became overwhelmed with emotion. Christy Buck pulled me aside and asked me if I was okay. After talking with her, she gave me several options for counseling but I knew I wasn’t ready for that. So, together, we found a way for me to begin to get over this traumatic event in my past. She asked me to participate and volunteer at the Foundation. I accepted and now I have people who support me as I support them. I never felt this great since the fall of 2003. I know that my mental health will only get better from here and I am so thankful that God brought the program to me.
A student and friend of the Mental Health Foundation.