We are bringing to an end the 20th Anniversary year for Youth Health Connection.  All year we have focused on the topic:  “Healthy Lifestyles:  Focus on Family”.  As a community we have addressed a range of topics relevant to creating healthier communities including Living Well with Connection, Taking Charge of Digital Devices, Healthy Eating, Physically Active Lifestyles, and Living in Grace with Gratitude, among others.

As Medical Director of YHC, I work hard to insure that we maintain scientific rigor and direction.  The goal is to continue providing a program that  has at the core early identification,  intervention and referral for both mental health and physical health concerns.  Through coalition building and education we strengthen our ability to build sustainable community based approaches.

The research guides us with the knowledge that 1/2 of adult mental health disorders occur before age 14, and that 3/4 have their origin before age 24.  Untreated mental illness results in lost lives and lost productivity with enormous costs to society.  We cannot stop working to lower the impact of disability due to mental illness.  Far too frequently we hear another story on the news about tragedy.  We must double our efforts to insure that care that is needed is obtained.

There is no stigma or shame attached to physical illnesses.  May the silence associated with mental illness be put behind us.  We know that peer and family supports are critical and powerful.  How Not To Keep A Secret, our peer training program teaches teens to reach out to trusted adults for help.  By bringing parents and communities together in united relationships we can create circles of safety and help.

With summer swiftly approaching, with the celebration season upon us, with seniors taking the steps to “launching”, it is imperative that we maintain connection, vigilance, openness and dialog.  Through interconnected community circles of caring adults including law enforcement, the medical community, the business community we can strengthen our resolve that we all live well and safely.  Summer should be a time for fun, play, relaxed schedules.  It should not be a time that we become casual or cavalier.

So, enjoy this time but maintain an understanding of the power and role of connection, harness the power of peer and family relationships, keep your  eyes open, speak up when concerned and reach out for help.

I hope that you can spend time this summer having fun, being playful, relaxing, exploring, going on adventures, trying something new, and all the time living with grace and gratitude.