How Can You Help Fight Behavioral Health Stigmas? #starttheconvo

One in five children ages 13 to 18 experiences a significant mental illness, and less than half get the treatment they need.  This staggering statistic demands a bold response. Nationwide Children’s Hospital is working to meet this overwhelming need by building the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion, the country’s largest pediatric behavioral health facility just for children and teens with mental and behavioral health needs.

So how can you help change this staggering statistic?

Helping children learn to talk about their thoughts, feelings and experiences is one thing that parents and caregivers can do to help identify when a child may be struggling. Simple, everyday conversations when a child has your full attention can provide a safe opportunity for them to talk about the things that they are having a hard time handling or are upsetting to them.

Likewise, reinforcing those things that they are excited by, or are handling well, helps build social and emotional resiliency that may help buffer them from future challenges. Asking nonthreatening questions like, “Tell me what you did today that you feel really good about,” “What was the best thing about today,” or “Was there something that happened today that disappointed you” are all simple questions that might get a child talking. Show your child that it is safe to talk about their thoughts and feelings and getting help from others is a healthy thing to do.

Treating mental illness is a serious matter, and we are grateful to be increasing the professional resources and facilities to improve our response. But stigma is an important barrier to people getting the help they need, and you can help.

If you are interested in receiving a free magnet with ideas of conversation starters to keep handy in your home, click the download button, below.

Together we can spread messages of hope and change the conversation and stigma around mental health. Tell us how you are starting mental health conversations with the hashtag #starttheconvo on your social media channels.

You can also download a Facebook profile frame to show your support. Click here, and type starttheconvo in the search box.

David Axelson, MD
David Axelson, MD is recognized nationally and internationally for his work in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry, pediatric bipolar disorder, diagnostic biomarkers for pediatric mood disorders, and pediatric psychopharmacology. He has published more than 125 peer-reviewed articles in leading journals including the Archives of General Psychiatry and the American Journal of Psychiatry. He was the Principal Investigator on a multisite National Institute of Mental Health funded treatment study of bipolar youth. He is also a co-Principal Investigator for two federally funded studies examining the phenomenology of pediatric bipolar disorder and the longitudinal course of offspring of bipolar parents, and a co-Investigator for four additional studies, including intervention studies aimed at preventing bipolar disorder in at-risk youths, improving medication adherence, and preventing suicide for adolescents with bipolar disorder. Dr. Axelson earned his bachelor’s degree in religious studies at Brown University and his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine. He completed a combined General – Child and Adolescent Psychiatry residency and a NIMH Clinical Research Fellowship in Child Psychiatry, both at WPIC, where he was also Joaquim Puig-Antich Scholar in Child Psychiatric Research.
Nancy Cunningham, PsyD
Dr. Nancy Cunningham is a psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital who has provided child and adolescent clinical services and overseen program development in their behavioral health department. Dr. Cunningham currently works with external community providers and organizations to develop partnerships that result in improved access to care and integration of services on behalf of children and their families.

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