Often times, parents asks their children, are you okay?  A majority of the time, adolescents quickly respond, “I’m fine”.  Yet, are they really?  Like the nation as a whole, Gwinnett County has witnessed troubling growth in the number of teenagers struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety, mood disorder or other mental health issues.

The statistics are staggering!  1 in 4 adolescents has, or will have experienced a mental health crisis, and the rate of teen depression is rapidly increasing.  According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly a third of all teens ages 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime, with the incidence among girls (38.0 percent) far outpacing that among boys (26.1 percent). In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst teenagers. Yet, approximately 30 percent of teenagers forgo needed care because they lack access to adequate insurance or mental health services.  If left untreated, these issues can present as problems with school, friendships, substance abuse, reduced performance in school, and can lead to other negative outcomes.

To help teenagers and their families better understand the social and emotional issues associated with anxiety and depression, the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services and its partnering organizations will present The Deception of Perception: A Mental Health Community Forum, on Saturday, May 23, 2019 at the Gwinnett County Division of Family and Children Services.

Topics of the forum include anxiety, depression, bullying, sexual harassment, dating violence, setting boundaries, and more.  Attendees will have an opportunity to participate in two panel sessions, two breakout sessions, and more than thirty vendors will be available to share information about the respective programs they offer.  In addition, View Point Health will have a team of professional counselors on hand to assist any teenagers experiencing crisis or challenges.

“Adolescents are under more pressure from parental, teacher and peer expectations than ever before. As a result, we are seeing a generation of kids who aren’t as resilient as they were 10 years ago,” says Keith Fenton, Chief Operating Officer for the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services.  “We have noticed children and youth are experiencing difficulties managing daily stressors and struggling to use healthy coping strategies,” he says. Consequently, kids are more likely to turn to unhealthy coping strategies such as avoidance, substance use, self-injury and disordered eating.

“It is vital to help the youth of today with anxiety and depression so that the adults of tomorrow are more equipped to cope and handle such challenges,” said Chad Jones with View Point Health.  Promoting psychological well-being and protecting adolescents from adverse experiences and risk factors that may influence their potential to thrive are not only critical for their well-being during adolescence, but also for their physical and mental health in adulthood.

For information about the mental health forum, call Program Specialist, Sarah Jane Baskin, at 770-995-3339.

EVENT:  The Deception of Perception – “I’m good, Are you really?”

DATE:  Saturday, March 23, 2019

TIME: 10:00am to 3:00pm

LOCATION: Gwinnett County DFCS Office, 95 Constitution Blvd, Lawrenceville, GA 30046

COST: This is a FREE event

PRESENTED BY:  The Gwinnett County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The Gwinnett Coalition’s Positive Youth and Family Development Committee, Gwinnett County Department of Family and Children Services and The Rho Kappa Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Inc.