DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Dayton Children’s Hospital is highlighting the mental health crisis facing children as the hospital marks a year since the launch of the “On Our Sleeves” campaign.
On Our Sleeves began at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in 2018 to provide families with resources on mental health topics. Dayton Children brought the program to Miami Valley in 2021.
“To try to break the stigma of talking about mental health topics,” Community Behavioral Health Outreach Coordinator for Dayton Children’s On Our Sleeves Emily Weitz said.
A CDC survey published in April found that one in three high school students experienced poor mental health at some point during the pandemic.
Weitz said that while the pandemic has garnered more attention in the mental health struggles children face, families find themselves waiting months before they can get access to a mental health provider. .
“A lot of parents are frustrated trying to get to places, you know, on long waitlists,” Weitz said.
Weitz said older providers may retire during a pandemic, the virtual model for telehealth presents a barrier, and the pandemic creates greater demand for mental health services.
However, if a child is struggling, Weitz said there are things parents can do to help their child through a difficult time. That’s why On Our Sleeves was made.
“They can do some things at home to help relieve that stress, and even help before it gets to the point where their child needs to seek professional help,” Weitz said.
Weitz says the best way for parents to start conversations about mental health is to start small.
“What do you do in recess, what do you have for lunch, so start those little things, and just let them talk, so that the more they start to open up, kind of get yourself out. in response and leave more. open conversations, ”Weitz said.
On Our Sleeves provides conversation starters, a weekly newsletter, blogs and other tools to help parents through the conversation. To connect to On Our Sleeves resources, click here.