May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
Why is Mental Health recently taking up so much space you may ask?
"Well, why not mental health, because the key word is health,”
says Tandra Jones, founder of Mending Minds with SWAT
(Strength, Wisdom and Tenacity).
Mental health disorders and illnesses have been stigmatized as if they are not involuntary and not as important as physical health.
Don’t let the stigma stop you from getting the help you need for your child.
The “aha” moment for me, was when I realized as a middle school teacher that this revelation did not apply to only myself and my adult colleagues, friends and family members but to youths and adolescents as well. “Mental health is an important part of children’s overall health and well-being” (CDC,2023).
Realizing that some of the traumas that adolescents experience themselves or the effects of these traumas through family relationships and connections is paramount to how they view themselves, their lives and even their day-to-day interactions with their peers, teachers and persons of authority.
I was always drawn to adolescent mental health and it was truly my passion. Once I had the opportunity to teach middle school students, I had a more profound desire to impact their lives in a different way. I realized I wanted to be a beacon of hope for our adolescents that have lived with:
- COVID and its effects
- the impacts of social media
- life’s unpredictability and instability
- premature deaths of friends and family
- exposure to substance use and abuse
- and many of the other causes leading to childhood traumas, loss of hope and a loss of zeal for life itself.
Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. children are diagnosed with a mental health disorder but only 20% of those receive care from a specialized mental health provider. Students aged 6-17 with mental, emotional, or behavioral concerns are 3x more likely to repeat a grade. Over the last three years there was a 4% rise in prescription drug misuse by middle school students and a 1% increase in alcohol initiation before the age of 11. (CDC,2023).
The CDC (2023) suggests that behavioral health integration (BHI) include mental and behavioral health screening, treatment, and collaboration between primary care and specialized mental health care providers. This can result in better outcomes for children and youth, more efficient and coordinated care, higher treatment rates, reduced parent stress, and improved consumer satisfaction.
Learning this, I knew that I not only wanted to be a proponent of an excellent education system but a quality mental health system as well.
From these ideas (along with my school aged desire and passion for mental health and with some research about adolescent/youth mental health statistics) birthed my Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program - PRP, Mending Minds with S.W.A.T. (Strength, Wisdom and Tenacity). This behavioral health community integrated program offers a range of rehabilitation services to ages 5 - 17 who experience difficulties resulting from behavioral problems and mental and emotional illnesses. Our services are designed to promote, reinforce, and equip participants with the skills required to thrive in their home, school setting, and community.
Enrichment Activities available to youth and adolescents at Mending Minds with S.W.A.T. (Strength, Wisdom and Tenacity) include:
- Cultural Art and Youth Activities
- Field Trips
- Technology (Computer Literacy)
- Political Awareness (Understanding Politics)
- Academic Support (Tutoring)
- College Preparedness (ACT/SAT Prep)
- Health and Wellness (Nutrition and Fitness Activities)
- Financial Literacy