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Posted on: April 16, 2021

Newport News Hosting Youth Mental Health Discussion Thursday, April 22

The Newport News Mayor’s Youth Commission (MYC) and the Newport News Police Department’s (NNPD) Young Adult Police Commission (YAPC) are teaming up to host a virtual panel discussion titled Youth Mental Health – Emerging from the Pandemic to New Societal Norms.  The discussion will take place on the city’s Facebook page (facebook.com/CityofNewportNews) on Thursday, April 22 at 6 p.m.  Panelists include local mental health experts and young people.

“This event is being hosted at the request of teens in Newport News who are members of the Mayor’s Youth Commission and Young Adult Police Commission,” said Shavar Bland, Family Services Specialist with the Newport News Department of Human Services and Mayor’s Youth Commission Liaison for the City of Newport News.  “We’ve had discussions on how members and their friends are experiencing mental health issues due to the pandemic and events taking place in the nation.  They asked the city to provide a way for them to learn how to cope with challenges and find the support they need.”

During the virtual event, the panel will discuss mental health and provide information on local resources young people can access for both immediate and long-term support.  The panel will be moderated by two young people who are part of the MYC and YAPC.  Panelists include: Brittni Petersen, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Agape Foundations Inc.; Tuesdai Johnson, Art Therapist, Licensed Resident in Counseling and Owner, Closing the Gap, LLC.; and, Antone Green, Certified Prevention Specialist, Coordinator of Prevention Services, Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board.  After remarks from the experts, the youth moderators will lead a discussion with questions from the groups.  The public is invited to watch and submit questions and comments via the city’s Facebook page.  While the discussion will focus on youth mental health, families and guardians are encouraged to participate.

According to the World Health Organization, mental health issues account for 16% of the occurrences of disease and injury in people ages 10 to 19 years globally.  Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age, but most cases are undetected and untreated. Globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness among adolescents and high school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers.  Sadly, suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15 to 19-year-olds.  The consequences of not addressing adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults.

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