One in five children nationwide could have a diagnosable mental health illness.
Healthcare providers are bringing awareness to mental health in our children for the third annual Youth Mental Health Awareness Month.
“There is a lot of stigma behind mental illness and suicide and a lot of that is just misinformation or fear of the unknown can add to that stigma and that can affect someone getting the help that they need,” Sheila Lythgoe, Coordinator Community Prevention Initiative for Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare said.
According to Mental Health America, in 2023 Virginia ranked 48th in youth mental health in the nation. States with rankings 39 through 51 mean that youth have a higher prevalence of mental illness and lower rates of access to care. This is a drop from being ranked 21st in 2022. Health leaders say this could be because of a lack of resources available.
“But we do know that we need more people in the field, we need more counselors and psychiatrist and psychologists in our field, and I think that’s the struggle across America is having enough people in the field to provide these services,” Lythgoe said.
Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare is taking the step to educate the public through a group contest.
“We are just challenging everyone to do something that’s focused on mental health promotion for the month of February, so it could be just one activity that they could do,” Lythgoe said.
Example activities for youth-based groups range from door decorating contests to spirit days. The group can then enter the contest for a cash prize for their support of the awareness month. The entries are due at the end of the month.
Visit the Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare website here.
Source: WSLS News 10