Press Release - May 2, 2013

Contact:  Andrea Wojcik
302-633-2501 or 985-1330 (c)

Delaware Children’s Department Celebrates Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

Visits to Elementary Schools, Free and Reduced Cost Rita’s Water Ice and Other Activities Planned

Wilmington – In an effort to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and how to access services locally, the Delaware Children’s Department is celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week May 5 – 11, 2013 with a series of events and fun activities.

The week begins with visits to early child care providers to incorporate a curriculum on emotions and feelings. On Tuesday May 7th, Senator Ernesto Lopez will join staff from the Department’s Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services (PBHS) at the Coolsprings Head Start Program in Milton for the program called Glad, Sad, Silly Mad…I Have Feelings Too. On Wednesday May 8th, PBHS staff will visit the Telemon Head Start in Dover to conduct the program and on Thursday May 9th, Children’s Department Secretary Jennifer Ranji will join the children at Beverly’s Helping Hand in Wilmington. The special guests will engage children in the 3 and 4-year-old classrooms in a discussion on feelings by playing an interactive game; reading from a book titled “Lots of Feelings;” and observing a musical performance by the children about feelings.

May 9th also marks Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and to celebrate, PBHS will partner with Rita’s Water Ice for the 7th Annual “Get the Scoop on Mental Health” campaign at participating locations. Between 6 – 8 p.m. PBHS staff will provide information on children’s behavioral health and Rita’s will provide coupons for a free or reduced cost scoop of water ice!
The national theme for this year’s Awareness Week is Out of the Shadows: Exposing Stigma. The goal is to bring the issue of children’s mental health into everyday conversation to improve the health of our communities, state and nation.

“Early identification and intervention services are key,” explains Susan Cycyk, Director of PBHS. “We are seeing great success with programs targeting children to age seven. These programs are improving school performance, and reducing disruptive behaviors. Additionally, thanks to our Parent-Child Interaction Therapy over 300 children with behavioral health issues can remain at home versus entering our system which results in more costly treatment.”

In the most recent Delaware Youth Risk Behavior Survey, over 20% of middle school students reported having seriously considered suicide at some point in their life while over 33% reported using alcohol and 14% reported having used drugs. Left un-treated these pre-teens are at high risk for suspension or expulsion from school.

“The Governor’s recommend budget initiatives would help us better address the needs of young adolescents by placing Behavioral Health Consultants in Middle Schools statewide, and by providing additional after school and summer programming so that we can identify at risk youth early and get them the help they need,” said Children’s Department Secretary Jennifer Ranji.

Participating Rita’s Water Ice locations for the May 9th, “Get the Scoop on Mental Health Day” include: in New Castle County - Bellefonte & Claymont (Philadelphia Pike), Newark Shopping Center, and three Wilmington locations (Kirkwood Hwy, Maryland Ave, and Silverside Road), in Kent County – Milford (Wal Mart Shopping Center) and in Sussex County – Rehoboth Beach (Midway Galleria), Bethany Beach (near Boardwalk – main drag), Seaford (Rt. 20 W. – just off intersection with Rt. 13.

In addition to this week’s activities, PBHS staff will help the Wilmington Blue Rocks Go Green for Children’s Mental Health on Sunday May 19th. For this fun family day at the ballpark, everyone is encouraged to wear green –– the color representing this cause –– and enjoy the game as the Blue Rocks take on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at Frawley Stadium. For more information about this special game day with the Blue Rocks, contact Stefani Rash at srash@bluerocks.com or visit www.bluerocks.com

The Children’s Department provides services to children who have been abused, neglected, are dependent, have mental health or substance problems, have been adjudicated delinquent by the Courts, as well as prevention services targeted toward all youth. For more information, please visit www.kids.delaware.gov .