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HOPE Week Promotes Positive Experiences for Kids' Mental Health

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Monday, May 16, 2022   

May is mental health awareness month. As part of that, groups in Idaho are using HOPE Week to help kids in crisis and reduce the state's worrying number of child suicides.

Jean Mutchie is president of the Idaho Resilience Project and a community health manager at Saint Luke's Health System. She said the project and Optum Idaho are teaming up to promote positive moments for kids, which can ease adverse experiences.

Mutchie said Optum Idaho is distributing 20,000 kites across the state - to gets them outside and playing.

"We're really focusing on kites, bikes and hikes," said Mutchie. "So really encouraging people to get outside with somebody else and engage in a positive activity."

HOPE stands for "Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences," and the theme for this year's HOPE week is "hope lives here."

Mutchie said there are a lot of ways to promote the mental well-being of children. She said connections with an adult who is not a family member can help protect their state of mind.

"And if you ask a lot of kids, they can't identify a trusted adult who's not part of their family," said Mutchie. "And so that one non-family member who is that trusted adult in a child's life can make an enormous difference. And data backs that up."

COVID-19 has taken a big toll, and is raising concerns about the number of Idaho children in crisis.

Recent surveys show as many as three quarters of respondents thought the pandemic had worsened mental health in the state, and a huge majority say addressing children's mental health is an especially urgent priority.

Mutchie said one key is that people should feel like they can ask for help.

"Really encourage people to seek help, destigmatize, understand that it's OK to not be OK and it's really OK to reach to somebody," said Mutchie. "And also encourage other people to start to build connection and support to really combat isolation and some of the lack of connect that we've faced during COVID."

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 takes calls twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.




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