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GlenOak High hosts panel discussion about youth mental health

Canton Repository - 2/19/2018

Feb. 19--PLAIN TWP. -- Separating emotions from rash actions during stressful moments was delievered as a key method for assisting young people Sunday during a panel discussion focusing on mental-health matters involving children in grades fifth through 12th.

Held in the GlenOak High School Plain Local Performing Arts auditorium, the event featured presentations from three local professionals in the mental-health treatment field and an official from the Stark County Family Court, which handles many of the legal matters involving minors.

Youths, according to Georgene Voros, chief clinical officer with Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health and one of the panel speakers, have difficulty separating emotional feelings from actions.

"Create space between feelings and actions," Voros said. "Certainly, Stark County has had a rough six months. So how do you deal with tough times? Resiliency is the way we go on. Resiliency means emotional literacy."

Other speakers were Kay Raga, executive director of the local National Alliance on Mental Health; Brittany Reed, a counselor with Coleman Behavioral Health; and Jacob Morgan, assistant court administrator with Stark County Family Court. Plain Local School District organized the event in cooperation with the various agencies.

"We just want to make sure we get information and resources out," said Superintendent Brent May of the school system. "How do we help kids relax? How do we help kids cope with stress? How do we give some resiliency support? Tonight is about information and how we can get better as a community."

Much of the panel members' presentation involved clinical data regarding mental health and youths. For instance, there was a statistic presented by Raga claiming 20 percent of children between 13 and 18 live with some mental-health condition.

"Mental-health disorders are a brain disorder," said Raga. "How do we help kids relax? How do we help kids cope with stress?"

One important tactic is for parents and guardians to make it clear they are listening and seeing their children. Young people want to be sure their concerns are being taken into account, according to Voros.

Young people are going through a mental developmental stage, explained Reed, the Coleman Behavioral Health counselor.

"We have found that our brains are not fully developed until we are about 26 years old," she said.

After their presentations, panel members fielded questions from the audience.

Reach Malcolm at 330-580-8305


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