By Lawrence A. Real, MD
Chief Medical Officer, DBHIDS
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and as we celebrate recovery, we strive to increase awareness and work to end stigma around mental health. Through the offering of comprehensive services, resources, and access to behavioral healthcare, we have a strong commitment to helping youth, adults, and families in greatest need, especially as the rates of reported mental health challenges continue to rise, especially among our youth.
Last week was National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week and now, more than ever, it’s critical that we all take some time to pay attention to the emotional health and well-being of our children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 14, and the second-leading cause for those 15 to 34 years old.
This is particularly important with the amount of conversation and controversy happening around the Netflix Series 13 Reasons Why. This series tells the story of a teenage girl who, in the context of several contributory factors impacting her feelings of self-worth and mental well-being—including relentless bullying—dies by suicide. The series is extremely powerful and does raise the point that conversations are needed about how youth interact with and treat one another, but it can also evoke a wide range of feelings and responses. If you or someone you know and love is struggling with suicidal ideation, please know that this series may not be suitable to watch without appropriate processing and necessary coordination of care. You may also wish to take a look at these talking points, developed by the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) and the Jed Foundation, for guidance on talking with youth about this series, as well as the additional references listed below.
Resources are available at www.HealthyMindsPhilly.org; we also have a Member Services Line available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Should you wish to contact someone about eligibility and access to services, please call 888-545-2600. Thank you for your commitment to recovery, resilience and self-determination. May you and our children be well.