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Department of Behavioral Health 5K Walk and Rally Raises Awareness about Children’s Mental Health

Saturday, May 14, 2016

                                                                                                                                                                              Contact: Phyllis Jones - (202) 631-3077; [email protected]

(Washington, DC)— A spirited crowd of children, young adults, and their families walked with District government agencies and community providers on Saturday, May 14, 2016, to promote the mental wellness of children and youth. The Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) sponsored the 5K Walk and Rally to spread awareness about the importance of paying attention to the mental health needs of children and to publicize  available services to support them and their families.

The Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Brenda Donald and DBH Director Tanya A. Royster, MD kicked off the 5K walk at Eastern Senior High School.  The walk ended at the Hillcrest Recreation Center with a carnival-style rally filled with entertainment, special attractions for children, and information about resources. 

"We want people to know that effective treatment for mental or substance use disorders is available and easy to access,” said Dr. Royster. “Helping young children and their parents or caregivers manage these difficulties early in life may prevent more severe, harder to treat illnesses.”

To talk to a mental health professional, call 1-888-7WE-HELP (1-888-793-4357) 24 hours a day or for information about services, visit

Research shows that children and youth who receive the support they need show measurable improvement in their behavioral and emotional health, school performance, and social interactions. Additionally, the evidence shows that the whole family benefits with healthier interactions, reduced stress, and increased opportunities to improve their lives.

Between 13 percent and 20 percent of children will face a serious emotional disturbance in a given year.  But, about half of all children in need of behavioral and emotional services receive them.  To help change this, the Department launched a new campaign for young people to lead the conversation about mental health needs.  “It’s Time to Let Help In” encourages young people to tell their own stories and to challenge stigma that might prevent them from seeking help.

A new website provides facts about the impact of mental illnesses on learning, family and social life and features stories in youth voices. Using the hashtag #lethelpin, the campaign will have a strong social media presence.  It also will engage the public directly through flyers, direct mail, and multiple community based events.  

Social Media: 

Department of Behavioral Health Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube: @MindandBodyDC