Washington, DC—The District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health is sponsoring a virtual Scavenger Hunt with ten public and public charter middle and high schools to raise awareness of the importance of paying attention to the mental wellness of children and youth. The Scavenger Hunt helps young people identify every day issues that could affect their mental health such as pressure to do well in school, a bad relationship, money worries, or bullying at school and provides tips on how to cope and where to go for help.
The virtual Scavenger Hunt is open from 12 a.m., Monday, April 28, 2014, until 11:59 pm, Monday, May 5, 2014. The top three schools with the highest student participation will be announced on May 8, National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.
“The Scavenger Hunt is a fun way to promote mental wellness,” said Stephen T. Baron, Director of the Department of Behavioral Health. “Learning about and talking openly about mental health in school helps to fight stereotypes that might prevent a young person from seeking help.
“Children and youth with mental health needs—as well as their families—thrive when they have the right treatment and supports. An emotional or mental illness should not be a barrier to a child reaching his or her full potential,” he said.
Participating schools are:
Cardozo Senior High School
Chávez Parkside Middle School
Columbia Heights Educational Campus
E.L. Haynes PCS
Friendship Woodridge Elementary and Middle
Hart Middle School
Langdon Education Campus
McKinley Technology High School
National Collegiate Preparatory Public Charter School, and
Wheatley Education Campus
Across the country, young people are participating in activities during May which is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month to call attention to the importance of paying attention to the mental health of young people. Half of all lifetime cases of mental disorders begin by age 14 but there are often years before people seek and receive treatment. Early identification can lead to timely treatment.
The Department of Behavioral Health conducts universal screening of children in Pre-K to 2nd grades in 35 public schools. About 2,600 children were screened in 2012 and of those, 800 were referred for mental health services. In addition, the Department provides mental health consultation to staff and parents in 26 child development centers and refers children as needed for additional services.
The Department of Behavioral Health also offers
- Intensive treatment proven to make a difference in a child’s functioning in school, at home, and in the community
- Same day treatment and medication for children up to six years old at the children’s clinic
- 24/7 emergency mobile crisis teams who will travel to the home or school to treat a child in crisis, and
- Mental health clinicians in 53 public and public charter schools who hold prevention, anti-bullying and other mental wellness activities, and treat as needed with parental consent
Nearly 4,500 District children and youth receive services through the Department of Behavioral Health. For more information, talk to a mental health counselor on the Access Helpline at 1-888-793-4357 or go to www.dbh.dc.gov and click on Children, Youth and Family Services.
Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day was started in 2006 by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other national organizations to raise awareness of effective programs for children’s mental health needs.