Since 1949, America has dedicated one month per year to recognizing mental health, and presidential proclamations about it mostly talk about the same things:
• the astounding volume of people who are afflicted
• the drive for accessible healthcare
• and the importance of eliminating the stigma surrounding the mentally ill.
I find one glaring absence in these remarks—where’s the mention of kids? The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that half of all lifetime struggles with mental illness begin by age 14, and that 1 in 5 children in their teens will be affected. That’s 20 percent of the youth in our community who will likely struggle with serious mental illness.
Fortunately, this community has an effective resource to help our kids. DeKalb County is home to the only non-profit, nationally accredited, community-based outdoor behavioral healthcare organization in the nation.
It has been four years since I attended the annual Adventure Works summer fundraiser where I heard parents talk about how Adventure Works changed -- and in some cases saved -- their children’s lives. I heard about the value of an outdoor expedition in therapy and how their activities help kids overcome life challenges.
I was touched by the dedicated Adventure Works supporters and a little surprised that more people hadn’t heard of such an innovative approach to mental health geared towards youth.
All twelve months of the year we should recognize that when our kids are struggling, we shouldn’t be brushing it off or dismissing those struggles as “normal kid stuff;” and that if they do need help, we should feel fortunate to have such a valuable resource right here in our own community.
I’m Erin Arnold, and that’s my perspective.