Breaking the Stigma Around Youth Mental Health

AdventHealth for Children partners to launch innovative, regional campaign.

AdventHealth News, and Adventist Review
Breaking the Stigma Around Youth Mental Health

AdventHealth for Children and Heart of Florida United Way are teaming up to start a movement that gets children, parents, and all Central Floridians in that U.S. state talking about mental health and empowers them to “Be a Mindleader.” 

The “Be a Mindleader” campaign aims to get curated, expert information into the hands of kids, parents, caregivers, coaches, mentors, and teachers and helpfacilitate life-changing conversations about mental health between children, teens, and the adults in their lives. This vital message will also reach Spanish- and Creole-speaking communities.

Half of all mental health disorders begin by age 14, yet only one out of three parents regularly discuss mental health with their children, according to AdventHealth research. And for those who suffer, it can take up to 11 years to get a diagnosis and seek treatment. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association, talking about mental health is one of the best ways to reduce the stigma, create hope, and lead people to seek care.

“A ‘Mindleader’ speaks up when they’re having a hard time and makes others feel safe to speak up too. By creating more ‘Mindleaders’ in our community, we can break down the stigma that keeps someone from reaching out for help and save children’s lives,” Dr. Rajan Wadhawan, senior executive officer of AdventHealth for Children, explained. “The number of children today who are struggling with mental illness is staggering. Nearly every shift, our emergency departments, pediatricians, and psychiatrists care for children struggling with anxiety, depression, substance use, and suicidal ideation.”

Launching this month, Be a MindLeader can connect parents, families, and Central Floridians to mental health hotlines and suicide and crisis prevention resources as well as tips and advice for starting conversations with kids and handling difficult situations, such as bullying and eating disorders. It can also connect them with the AdventHealth for Children’s Mental Health Navigation team, which can help parents find providers in their insurance network and schedule appointments. Finally, it can tell them where to find psychiatrists and pediatricians skilled in treating children with anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, OCD, and more.

Over the next two years, AdventHealth for Children will also host school events teaching young children about emotions and foundational skills for caring for their mental health, as well as conversations with local business groups on the impact youth mental health has on families and how employers can ensure team members are supported. 

For children ages 14 to 18, suicide is the third leading cause of death, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The problem is most acute among young girls. From 2019 to 2021, a recent CDC study found that one-third of teenage girls in the United States seriously considered attempting suicide. 

“As the operator of the 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline locally, we literally answer the calls for help from our neighbors struggling with mental health issues every day,” Jeff Hayward, president and CEO of Heart of Florida United Way, said. “It’s our hope that by normalizing the conversation about mental health and reducing the stigma associated with seeking help, more Central Floridians can thrive. Something as simple as a conversation could be the spark to save someone’s life.”

The “Be a Mindleader” campaign builds on a partnership between AdventHealth for Children and Dr. Phillips Charities to establish the Center for Advancement and Support of Youth (CASY), a comprehensive pediatric and adolescent mental and behavioral health program for Central Florida. Made possible with a US$6 million grant from Dr. Phillips Charities, CASY will expand access to pediatric mental health care, increase early diagnosis and intervention, help families navigate the complex mental and behavioral health care system, and reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations for children.  

“Dr. Phillips Charities understands the pressures and anxieties our children are feeling today in classrooms, on sports fields, and on social media,” Ken Robinson, president and CEO of Dr. Phillips Charities, said. “That is why we want to make certain they are comfortable finding the help they want and need. Parents, adolescents, and children need the tools that AdventHealth for Children provides, not only to foster important and courageous conversations but also to access the mental health care they need.”

He added, “That is why Dr. Phillips Charities is proud to support the CASY program to increase life-saving conversations and access to psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. Today’s youth are our future.”

Robinson explained that providing them with the tools needed to succeed is vital for the community. “[That is] why we are excited for AdventHealth for Children’s CASY program and the partnership with Heart of Florida United Way,” he said. 

This story is based on the version posted on the North American Division news site.

AdventHealth News, and Adventist Review