There is a growing concern about the mental health of young people and this has especially escalated during the pandemic. Even in 2021, there is still quite a bit of stigma about mental health issues and young people are reluctant to talk about their feelings and seek help for fear of being judged. There is a lot that is lacking in our current health care system and access to good mental health services is also a problem. By raising mental health awareness in the community and providing education we can try to get more families and children to recognize issues, come forth and seek help. Our goal is start by launching a small mental health awareness pilot program within our school. We hope to use screening tools at various times during the year to identify children with concerning issues and refer them to appropriate services. We plan to create a comprehensive list of referral services that children can avail of. We also wish to launch an online educational program inviting experts (Child Psychiatrist, Psychologists etc) to talk to parents and children on a monthly basis in a town hall format allowing room for question and answers. This educational online program will be shared by our school to all schools in the Dallas-Fortworth metroplex via Canvas so that children from other schools can also join and avail of the educational opportunity. The school intends to consider working on a mental health awareness curriculum that children can enroll into and learn more. As this program expands and grows and the pandemic is over, we hope to conduct a mental health awareness camp at least once a year. Some part of the funds raised will be donated to SPARC (Suicide Prevention and Resilience Clinic) at UT Southwestern Children's clinic to provide some free services to children who can't afford care and to continue educational efforts towards mental health awareness. We will provide a yearly breakdown of activities for which the funds are used. Please help to start a campaign to raise mental health awareness in our communities.
Thank you for your kind consideration and generosity.
Shilpa Chitnis MD, PhD.
Professor of Neurology
UT Southwestern Medical Center