LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and the Diamond Hill Baptist Church in Lynchburg is celebrating by hosting public events.
The church’s first event was geared toward children and featured a video, guest speaker, games as well as shaved ice.
The second event will be geared toward adults and will take place on Saturday, May 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturday’s event for children allowed students from elementary through high school to socialize and learn more about mental health issues.
“We want these children to be able to openly say, ‘I’m not feeling right. I need to talk to somebody. Something is just not right [or] I just don’t feel right,’” said former educator Gloria Simon.
Simon says the pandemic has started a mental health crisis but has brought mental health awareness out of the dark.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10 to 24.
“We still see children who are depressed. We still see children who are committing suicide after the two years of being isolated. Because of COVID-19, we’re seeing more need for events like we are having today,” said Simon.
High school student Gabby Mosley says mental health was always there but the pandemic brought an understanding of what it was.
“People actually started understanding that there’s more than just the surface level there’s more going on down deep,” said Mosley.
The kids learned to have one person they can trust and talk to about their mental health. If that person thinks the child needs professional help, they should take it to the next step.
“Notifying the parent, talking to the child and if needed going to the level of getting a counselor, a therapist and making sure the child understands…it’s ok,” said Simon.