May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and a chance to bring focus to important mental health issues and MHATC’s commitment to addressing them. We pride ourselves on protecting, serving, and advocating for vulnerable people in our community. Poor mental health is affecting an increasing range of age groups and community members, and our youth are no exception.
According to the Tompkins County Community Health Assessment in 2013, one quarter (26%) of middle school students and nearly one-third (30%) of high school students reported feeling sad or depressed most days.
A vast number of youth at high-risk for suicide, or other mental health concerns, are left untreated. This is largely because of the stigma associated with treatment and a lack of awareness of how mental health issues impact youth. Since adolescents tend to be particularly vulnerable, they are very prone to adopting unhealthy coping mechanisms to reduce their negative feelings. At MHATC, it’s our goal to provide adolescents with the wellness tools they need to reduce anxiety, identify triggers, and avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms. We’re also working very hard to help young people to disassociate seeking help with weakness. Our Youth Services Program serves as the foundation for normalizing conversations about mental health. Here adolescents build a greater awareness of mental well-being, and the ability to recognize warning signs in themselves and others – potentially saving a life.
In 2015, The National Institute of Mental Health reported that 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and 75% by age 24.
The objective of MHATC’s Youth Services Program is to create support through the transitional periods and difficulties that come with adolescence. Our programs include facilitating support groups in the adolescent behavioral unit of Cayuga Medical Center to assist with admission and discharge, implementing peer support programs, Youth Mental Health First AidÒ training, and involving young people in advocacy. This gives youth who have been touched by the mental health system a voice, where they can help affect change.
This month, as we hear the voices of our community’s adolescents calling out for help, we ask you to consider making a gift – your partnership with us – to fight stigma and offer the resources and advocacy our young people need for mental health and well-being. It’s only through the generous and compassionate support of people like you, that our reach can expand and young lives can find hope and healing.
With Sincere Appreciation,
Chairman of the Board