Going green to help children in fight against mental disorders

LIHU‘E — Green is not only the color of the Kapa‘a High School Warriors — it symbolizes new life, new growth and new beginnings.

Green was the color of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week which ended Friday with a group of advocates helping children cope with mental health issues holding signs along Rice Street.

“This week is National Childen’s Mental Health Awareness Week, but the entire month of May is Mental Health Month,” said Joy Kouchi, one of the advocates at the historic County Building, Friday.

During the 1800s, green was used to brand people who were labeled as “insane,” states the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health website.

The children’s mental health community decided to continue using green, but with a completely different focus, wearing green ribbons to raise public awareness, better the lives of children and youth with serious emotional disorders and show our support of these children and their families.

Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., taking time to visit with the children and their advocates prior to a dedication ceremony, said all children, without regard to challenges they face, are valuable and a significant part of the rich and diverse resources of our present and future.

In presenting a proclamation for the observance, Carvalho noted mental health is essential to overall health and well being and, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one in five children has a mental health disorder and one in 10 adolescents aged 9 through 17 years old has a serious mental illness.

This compares with the Mental Health America website which states that one in four American adults live with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition leading to “Do More for 1 in 4,” one of two National Mental Health Month themes.

With proper treatment and support, children (and adults) with mental health disorders can succeed in all life domains and reach their full potential, the proclamation states.

“Live Well! It’s Essential for Your Potential” is the second theme of the National Mental Health Month and focuses on the importance of mental wellness and the steps people can take to improve their well-being and resiliency in the face of difficult times and challenges.

Mental Health America offers “Live Your Life Well” program which offers 10 science-based tools to manage stress and help with relaxation.

These are available by visiting www.mentalhealthamerica.net.

Mental Health America started the tradition of celebrating May as Mental Health Month in 1949 to raise awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for everyone.

Visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net for information on mental health, and www.ffcmh.org for information on National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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