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LCAHY Hosts Community Forum on Child/Adolescent Mental Health and Wellness

The Lowcountry Alliance for Healthy Youth (LCAHY) hosted a Community Forum on Child/Adolescent Mental Health and Wellness. The featured speakers included Dr. Kirkland and Dr. Garcia of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Kirkland presented initial findings from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) longitudinal research study concerning child/adolescent mental health, including substance use and COVID-related outcomes. The ABCD study is investigating how the brain develops as adolescents mature. It was created to answer the most pressing public health questions, including how/when mental health problems begin, risk/protective factors, substance use trajectories, and more. Dr. Garcia presented child/adolescent mental health issues (e.g. anxiety, depression) and risk factors for the top three leading causes of mortality. She addressed factors associated with child/adolescent mental health and well-being and provided strategies and resources, emphasizing the need for parents to be involved with all aspects of their child’s life and to have positive and open communication with their teens about sleep, screen time, and substance use. Teens for Healthy Youth (THY) members from Bluffton High School, Cross Schools, May River High, and Hilton Head Christian Academy presented “A Message from Our Youth '' which gave a youth voice in response to the Surgeon General’s Advisory, Protecting Youth Mental Health, to the community sectors. There were approximately 150 community members in attendance including Mayor Sulka of Bluffton and the Mayor Perry of Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County School District Superintendent, Dr. Rodriguez, and the School Board Chair, Dr. Gwodz. Continuing Education Units were offered for social workers, nurses, counselors, and educators. Multiple mental health organizations staffed informational tables along with LCAHY and THY. Ben Seger from WSAV TV moderated the event. The speaker's Power Points were set to translate speech from English to Spanish to make it accessible to Spanish speakers. LCAHY media sector CIA, Joy Nelson streamed the event live on Facebook. See stream at Live Stream on MULCAHY Facebook. To view WSAV’s interview to promote the forum go WSAV Promotes Forum To watch WSAV’s coverage of the event visit WSAV Coverage of LCAHY Community Forum and Interview on WHHI. To read the Bluffton’s Sun coverage of the Community Forum visit The Bluffton Sun's Coverage. Since 2015, LCAHY has hosted Community Forums on topics addressing youth substance use and related risk behaviors, which have included a call to action to all sectors of the community from our youth coalition members, Teens for Healthy Youth. The 2023 Forum focused on a whole society approach to supporting the mental health needs of our youth.


LCAHY’s Flyer to promote the 2023 Community Forum on Child/Adolescent Mental Health and Wellness.



Program from LCAHY’s Community Forum 2023.



Pastor of the Cross Church in Bluffton, SC gave the Invocation to begin the Community Forum.



Dr. Kirkland presented early findings from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) longitudinal research study concerning child/adolescent mental health, including substance use and COVID related outcomes.



Dr. Garcia introduces her presentation on child/adolescent mental health issues (e.g., anxiety, depression) and risk factors for the top three leading causes of mortality.




Teens for Healthy Youth members from Bluffton High, Cross Schools, Hilton Head Christian Academy, and May River High presented “A Message from Our Youth” during the program.



Emma Rose, May River High School THY member, addresses what parents can do to prevent and reduce teen substance use based on the Surgeon General’s Advisory.



Katie McNeil, Bluffton High School THY member speaks to the Youth Serving Section during “Messages from Our Youth”.



Ethan Barrera, THY President at Bluffton High School, gives a message to the school sector during LCAHY’s Community Forum.





Following the presentation portion of the event, the Moderator took questions from the audience for Dr. Kirkland, Dr. Garcia, and the youth presenters.




THY members staffed an informational table during the Community Forum and offered THY’s fact cards to attendees on Teen Stress/Coping and Suicide Prevention Awareness Messages. Other fact cards addressed underage drinking, marijuana/edibles, e-cigarettes, and impaired and distracted driving. LowCountry Alliance for Healthy Youth also staffed an information table at which child/adolescent mental health resources were highlighted and the LCAHY Rx fact card and Deterra bags were distributed.

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