During this time, we have learned our health is linked; and we have experienced a ripple effect. The health of one person, one neighborhood, one city, one state, one nation, has been tested. The same is true of our mental health. Our connectedness is forcing us to stay apart physically, but emotionally we need each other to get through this. By staying home we protect our world’s physical health, but by connecting through a phone call, zoom meeting, or social media we protect each other’s mental health. We are each other’s strength. Join SOS Illinois in support for Mental Illness Awareness Week – #MIAW.
SOS Children’s Villages Illinois is raising awareness for mental health October 4-10 in an effort to ensure children in foster care have the opportunity to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. We place great importance on the mental health of the children in our care. That’s why SOS Illinois has a dedicated team of clinicians that provide trauma-informed therapeutic services for each of the children and families we serve.
Children in Foster Care are 60% More Likely to Struggle with a Mental Health Condition
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Healthy Foster Care American Initiative, mental and behavioral health is the “greatest unmet health need for children and teens in foster care.” The statistics for children in foster care in relation to mental health issues are alarming, especially considering the following statistics on youth mental health in the general population:
- 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34
- The average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years
- 17.2% of the general population of high school students have “serious thoughts” of suicide, including 47.7% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students
- 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14
- High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers
- 70.4% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed mental illness
For youth in foster care, especially those within the LGBTQ+ community, these statistics are increased.
Psychotropic Medications Prescribed Present Alarming Concerns
Medications such as mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety prescriptions, antipsychotics and stimulants are being prescribed to youth in foster care as a method of treatment for behavioral and mental health issues in children as young as 3 years of age.
Research has identified alarming concerns in relation to the administration of these psychotropic medications, including the fact that oftentimes multiple medications are used simultaneously from the onset of treatment.
The SOS Illinois Village model of care presents daily, regular opportunities for youth in foster care to obtain guidance, counseling and support that offers a stable environment centered around the healing of traumatic events in their lives so that they may break free from the limitations set by their mental health conditions and eliminate their dependency on psychotropic medications.
The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act Seeks to Closely Monitor Administration of Psychotropic Medications
This Act was brought into effect in 2011 and requires that State Child and Family Services Plans includes details of how emotional trauma associated with maltreatment for children in foster care is addressed, including details on how psychotropic medication usage is monitored.
In addition to the monitoring of psychotropic medication usage, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008 requires that each state consult with pediatricians and additional experts in order to develop a plan for the coordination and oversight of medical and mental health services for children in foster care.
SOS Illinois Provides Opportunities for Healing and Longevity
Each child that enters our Villages has a dedicated support system from the very start. From our full-time Foster Parents to our on-site clinicians, therapists, mentors, case managers, support staff and more, the youth in our care are able to find safety and security in knowing they’re surrounded by a community that only wants the best for them.
These children are offered a real chance at renewing their sense of trust and hope. They’re also able to heal from the traumas of their past while gaining footing on steady ground in an effort to provide them the confidence, skills and resources they need in order to become responsible and caring adults.
SOS Illinois Supports the #MIAW Campaign
The theme of this year’s Mental Illness Awareness Week is, “What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know.” Throughout the week, we will be raising the voices of those with lived experience to talk about some of the conditions and symptoms that are most misunderstood.
Mental Illness Awareness Week runs from October 4 – 10 and coincides with additional related events:
- Tuesday Oct. 6: National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding
- Thursday Oct. 8: National Depression Screening Day
- Saturday Oct. 10: World Mental Health Day
- Saturday Oct. 10: NAMI Walks National Day of Hope
You Are Not Alone
NAMI continues our year-long awareness campaign, You Are Not Alone, to feature the stories of people affected by mental illness to fight stigma, inspire others and educate the broader public. Now more than ever, the mental health community must come together and show that no one is ever really alone. No one should be without the information, support, connection and help they need.
How To Participate in #MIAW
There are many ways to get involved and remind people they are not alone by sharing stories about how connecting with someone during the health crisis has affected you, or what it means to have access to care by sharing through text, graphics, video or any other medium.
Follow SOS Illinois during the #MIAW Campaign
During Mental Illness Awareness Week, and the full month of October, SOS Illinois will be sharing resources, insights, and wisdom about caring for your own mental health, and supporting the mental health of others. You can find us on our social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Additionally, we will be sharing information about the ways that our Village Model of Care helps to support the mental health of youth in foster care, and how you can get involved to help get our communities happy and healthy.