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Children's mental health awareness event is May 4

Register-Herald - 4/30/2017

April 30--Families are invited to learn more about the importance of both physical and mental health at a National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day event May 4 at Little Beaver State Park.

The event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. with an awareness walk at 6 p.m.

"The awareness walk is a great opportunity for parents to access resources available in the community," said Tracy King, director of children's services at FMRS Health Systems in Beckley.

"We are expecting at least 15 agencies from the community to attend who will be providing information that is critical for the health of children and families."

King said youth can enjoy learning about having a healthy mind and body through different games and activities before the walk begins.

Prizes are up for grabs for both young children and adolescents, including bikes, gift certificates and tickets to the WV Miners games. Games, snacks, activities and face painting will also be held at the event.

"We hope that parents and children will learn about the connections between trauma (the bad things that happen to us) and our physical and behavioral health," King said. "Our goal is to encourage children and adults to seek help when they need it and to provide them with the information needed to access that help."

Half of adult mental illness begins before age 14, she noted, and three-fourths before age 24. According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), more than 40 percent of youth ages 13 to 17 have experienced a behavioral health problem by the time they reach seventh grade.

King added, "Untreated behavioral health conditions often lead to trouble for children at school, home and in the community -- troubles that can have lasting effects into adulthood. Treatment can help correct the course by aiding children and families in developing coping skills and building healthy relationships."

To show support for the cause, the event organizers are asking attendees to wear green, and to tag their photos on social media with #ChildrensMentalHealthMattersWV.

For information about the event or local services, call 304-256-7100.

-- Email: and follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren


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