SOS Children’s Villages Illinois is raising awareness for mental health October 6-12 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
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 foster children 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 Participates in the WhyCare? Campaign
Care has the power to make a life-changing impact on those affected by mental health conditions. Through our own words and actions, we can shift the social and systemic barriers that prevent people from building better lives.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), “the WhyCare? campaign is an opportunity to share the importance of mental health treatment, support and services to the millions of people, families, caregivers and loved ones affected by mental illness and a challenge to address broken systems and attitudes that present barriers to treatment and recovery.”
Care is a simple 4-letter word, but a powerful way to change lives for people affected by mental illness. It’s an action. It’s a feeling. It’s a gift we give to ourselves and to each other. People feel loved when someone cares. People feel heard when someone cares. People recover when someone cares. Society changes when people care. Entire systems change when people care.
How To Participate
There are many ways to get involved and demonstrate WhyCare? by sharing stories about why you care for others, how support or care from others 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 WhyCares Campaign
During Mental Health 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.