Children’s Mental Health Awareness Commemorated
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LYNN — Community leaders and members took part in a conference dedicated to Children’s Mental Health Week with Mayor Jared Nicholson urging residents “to participate appropriately in observance of it.”
“On behalf of the City of Lynn, good mental health is a key part of a child’s healthy development and Children’s Mental Health Week provides an opportunity to focus on this important issue while celebrating the accomplishments of children and families affected by mental health issues,” read the Wednesday proclamation.
The proclamation states that the Department of Mental Health and Human Services estimates that one in five children nationwide is diagnosed with a mental health condition. Research has shown that early identification and appropriate treatment of mental health disorders provides better opportunities for leading full and productive lives.
The theme for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is “Action Makes a Difference”, and it emphasizes that children and young people with mental health issues “also benefit from access to services and timely, family-centred, youth-guided, and culturally appropriate supports. “, says the proclamation.
The involvement and partnership of family members as well as the care and treatment of children and young people are key to achieving positive outcomes.
Boston was the first community in Massachusetts to mark Children’s Mental Health Week with a proclamation. Lynn was the second. Now, communities across the North Shore are participating.
“May is Mental Health Month, and the first week of May we celebrate children’s mental health,” said Dalene Basden, director of family and community engagement at the Justice Resource Institute (JRI).
The color of Mental Health Month is green with a green ribbon, an international symbol of mental health awareness. According to Basden, High Rock Tower has been lit green for the past few years to mark the week, but this year the lights aren’t working.
Basden said as soon as the lights start working, the Central Square tower and underpass will be illuminated to help raise awareness.
“And so Mental Health Month began; it’s to raise awareness and end the stigma,” said Johanna Rodriguez, Multicultural Outreach Coordinator at the Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL).
The discussion began with two of the youth panel members, who have faced a mental health crisis before in their lives, presenting their stories of how they managed to recover.
“There were a lot of difficulties. I was kicked out of my house; I lost my job; I lost everything because of the explosion or the explosion of my mental health,” said Braden Romaniello.
He said he had bipolar disorder and spat on someone, the police were called and Romaniello eventually got two years probation. He said the incident could have been defused and handled better, and the police didn’t really help with his mental health crisis.
Sheldon Vibbard, who also suffered from bipolar disorder, agreed that the police did not help mediate his mental health crisis. What works, according to Romaniello, is having a team and “having people who listen.”
The Reverend Bernadette Hickman-Maynard, racial justice organizer at Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) who also co-chairs the Lynn Racial Justice Coalition, reminded the community of the All Lynn Emergency Response Team , or ALERT, which was designed to respond independently of the police in non-violent emergencies.
Oksana Kotkina can be contacted at [email protected]