It Takes a Village

It caught my eye as I drove past the local high school. “Parent Mental Health Night” flashed on the digital display board. I don’t have a child there anymore, my youngest is a senior in college. But as a mental health advocate, my curiosity was peaked.

I checked it out online and reserved my seat for Monday night’s meeting. The city’s Youth Commission organized the entire event and a movie theater donated the space.

As we arrived, groups of teens welcomed us and checked us in. I settled into my seat and looked around. I was happy to see how many people showed up.

The first speaker explained that the Youth Commission formed last year and made decisions on which upcoming projects they wanted to focus on. They felt the number one concern for youth is mental health. The number one concern.

They got to work and developed Parent Mental Health Night and also a separate evening just for teens later in the month. To say I was impressed is an understatement.

The lights in the theater dimmed and we watched about ten minutes of an award winning movie, based on a true story. The film is called “No Letting Go.” It’s about a teenager struggling with bipolar disorder and how his mental illness affects the entire family. His parents desperately try to save their son, while keeping the rest of the family together.

After the film, a panel of professionals were ready to speak. There were psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, the head of the county’s youth outreach program, the county’s executive director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), and the police chief. They discussed anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

I couldn’t get a phrase out of my head. It takes a village to raise a child.

These community organizations came together to openly discuss the importance of mental health and the challenges of mental illness. A step in the right direction. A step toward ending the stigma.

On that night, in that theater, mental health was literally put in the front row. No longer shoved to the back of the room.

It was captivating when the young adults on the panel spoke. In their late teens and twenties, they each gave a testimonial about their struggle with mental illness.

One boy’s anxiety became severe when he was a junior, dealing with the pressures of high school and getting into college. One girl was hospitalized with depression. Another girl hid her eating disorder for years. One young man with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia was hospitalized numerous times.

They all had one thing in common. It was hard for them to admit their problem to family and friends. Because of stigma.

Often mental health conditions are kept secret because the individuals or family members are embarrassed or ashamed. One speaker said, “Pretending there isn’t a problem only makes the stigma worse.” So true.

The police chief was the final speaker. He explained the importance of having officers CIT trained. Crisis Intervention Training. Many of the domestic calls involve someone with a mental illness and CIT officers know how to handle those cases. Currently, 70% of the police force in our county are CIT trained. The goal is 100%.

Something else the police chief said made a huge impact. He talked about how officers monitor social media. They search Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and more.

One night a teenage girl was on Instagram and said she was going to kill herself. Officers found her post and called her parents in the middle of the night. They were sound asleep andย  had no idea. That girl was helped in time, thanks to those police officers.

It takes a village.

First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here

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33 thoughts on “It Takes a Village

    • Yes, I think so too. I was really impressed. Maybe this generation will take a lead in helping to end the stigma, so that people with a mental health condition won’t be as afraid or hesitant to reach out for medical help.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I saw the entire movie on Amazon. Hits too close to home. I’m living this nightmare waiting for the other shoe to drop. Unfortunately stigma or not, there is a definite lack understanding. Dealing with these issues is very isolating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree… even if there are steps toward ending the stigma, many do not understand the illnesses, which makes it very isolating and lonely to deal with. I plan on watching the whole movie soon. One of our libraries is hosting a showing of it, and I may go to that. Or Amazon. Take care ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know, it’s a great idea. Many parents may have questions about their children’s mental health, but aren’t quite sure where to turn. A program like this is a great starting point. Sorry, I wish I could say where I’m from, but my blog is anonymous (for my daughter and family’s privacy). But I know the producers of “No Letting Go” have partnered with The Youth Mental Health Project, a nonprofit, that raises awareness of mental health/illness in youth. It’s nationwide… more info is on the website for the movie. The link is in my post. Hope that helps!

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  2. Wow – this is fantastic. Brilliant to raise the issue of mental health – for young people, parents and the community to recognise, talk about and do something about mental health. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. number one concern? for mental health? that’s unheard of. what a forward thinking community!

    i recently went to a talk in the seattle area on ending the stigma and their forward thinking process was was educating the family through the children. hearing i remember feeling disappointed and thinking maybe that’s the best we could hope for. your community shows me there is so much more. bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mental health stigma is one of the worst possible setbacks that one faces in society, and it feels so good to hear about the initiative taken to raise this issue. This is absolutely brilliant , and I hope the good work continues all across the globe. Goodness knows we need more mental health awareness, and we definitely need more empathy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed! Thank you for your kind words and insight. I sure hope the good work continues, raising awareness and educating about mental health issues. Little by little, we’re helping to end the stigma.

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  5. What a fantastic initiative! I wish that there were more of these kinds of events in South Africa.

    I’m actually doing a 2-hour “course/workshop” in a couple of week’s time on my experience of living with mental illness. Apparently there are quite a few people signed up to it, which I’m excited (and nervous) about.

    It is so important that we make mental illness something that people are willing to talk about, not something that is taboo and embarrassing. Hopefully there will be more steps in the right direction as we move through 2017 and beyond!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I completely agree with that, and am hopeful as well! The stigma needs to end. That’s really interesting about the workshop you’re going to do. I’m sure everyone will be very supportive and it’ll be a good experience. And wow — you’re in South Africa!? I don’t think I’ve met a fellow blogger from there. It’s nice to meet you, thanks so much for connecting with me. I look forward to reading your posts.

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  6. A good read, and proud of those students. I just recently was told at work “you can’t say you have an eating disorder.” when the girl next to me talks opening about her diabetes. I wish so badly there wasn’t such shame around mental illness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that really is too bad. It’s sad that you were told that. The stigma is still so strong. Mental health conditions need to be talked about, not swept under the rug. That’s the way the stigma will be broken down, by speaking out. Thank you for your comment!

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    • Thanks for your comment and for visiting here! I think it’s so important to start mental health education at a young age. Awareness is key. And good to open the conversation, so kids aren’t ashamed or embarrassed to get help.

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