Houston County Schools hosts first Mental Health Summit

The district hosted its first Mental Health Summit on Thursday.
Houston County Schools and Project AWARE

WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — Children and teens seem to be dealing with more mental health challenges than ever before.

Tangela Brice, the Project AWARE coordinator with Houston County Schools, says the district decided to try something new to connect parents with mental health resources.

The district hosted its first Mental Health Summit on Thursday.

“What we wanted to do is bridge the gap between our parents and our community members who need mental health resources and the community providers in our area,” she said.

Those who attended the summit met with health and community therapy providers.

Laura Whitaker-Shortt, a Senior Outreach Consultant for Piedmont Behavioral Health who was one of the vendors at Thursday’s event, says mentally healthy people are healthier overall. She shared a few signs of a child who is struggling mentally.

“If there’s a change in their behavior, if they’re more active or underactive,” she said. “If they’re sleeping more or sleeping less, if they were very talkative and they’re talking less. Those are all signs that something is going on.”

There were three presentations throughout the day. The first one covered recognizing and addressing anxiety and depression in youth. Brice shared her takeaway from the presentation.

“Tune into yourself,” she said. ‘Tune into your youth or your students or your child. Pay attention to some of those signs and symptoms that could be present.”

Whitaker-Shortt says there’s a stigma around mental health that prevents people from getting care. She says it’s important to normalize mental health from a young age and adds that kids today don’t deal with a stigma like the older generations do.

“With this generation, they’re a lot more vocal about behavioral health and owning their behavioral health,” she said. “So it’s making it a lot easier for them to get access to care, and we’re slowly starting to see that stigma come down in this age group.”

If you missed Thursday’s event and would like to know more about Project AWARE or the service providers who were there, contact the Houston County Student Services Department.

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