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Acadia Hospital Provides Old Town and Milford Schools with Mental Health Education

Posted: 11/14/2013

Adolescent mental health is an important, yet sometimes overlooked, aspect to a young person’s overall well-being. Poor mental health can lead to social isolation, dropping grades, a loss of enjoyment in everyday activities, drug use, self-harm, and in rare instances, suicide.
Recently, the Dr. Lewis S. Libby School in Milford and Old Town High School reached out to Acadia Hospital to provide mental health presentations to both students and faculty. Acadia is a fully accredited and licensed non-profit psychiatric hospital whose mission it is to empower people to improve their lives; which includes providing information to help educate people about mental illnesses, the importance of early intervention, and how to access help.
The first presentation took place on October 31 at the Dr. Lewis S. Libby School. Mrs. Kay Voyer’s 8th grade health class was wrapping up their section on mental health and wanted to have someone speak to the issue. In preparation for the session, the students watched the award-winning short dramatic film about youth anxiety and depression, The Road Back, on October 30. The film was produced by Acadia Hospital in conjunction with Project AWARE.

The featured speaker was Faith Bishop, a Hermon High School senior and author and director of the film. She shared with the students her own experiences with anxiety and depression and also talked about writing and directing the film. Acadia Hospital’s Communications Officer, Alan Comeau, also shared information about the hospital and shared facts about anxiety and depression in youth. The students were very attentive, and one commented, “It was a very educational and interesting experience and I will remember your words of wisdom for years to come. The coping skills and personal experience you shared with us will be very helpful if I ever experience any kind of anxiety or depression in the future.”

Mrs. Voyer added her own observations, “Alan and Faith were able to share how to deal with anxiety and depression before it begins to control a person’s life. Knowing that there is help for any one dealing with mental health issues is important to students. Students do not have to deal with issues alone; there is help for anyone who wants it. Students now have some strategies of how to deal with anxiety and depression, thanks to Alan and Faith. Hearing Faith’s story motivated several students to create a movie of their own in ELA class.”

Old Town High School has a history of working with Acadia Hospital on a variety of topics and programs, and that partnership once again paid off when Acadia personnel were able to share knowledge of adolescent mental health with students in the Honors Program for one session, and a Faculty Training for another, both held on November 5.

Acadia Hospital Pediatric Outpatient Services Psychiatric Nurse Michelle Drinkwater, RNC gave a one hour talk on mental health issues for young adults to 43 students, with a half-hour question and answer session, while Acadia Clinical Supervisor of Consult Services and Care Coordination Social Worker Kassie Merrill, LCSW, joined a parent of an Old Town student living with depression to provide training on mental health issues to nearly 20 OTHS faculty members.

Old Town High School Principal Scott Gordon commented on the day’s activities, “Old Town High School understands how important mental health can be to any student's success in school. We are committed to educating our students and staff about mental health and wellness. Acadia Hospital is a wonderful resource, and they have been fantastic in assisting us with this endeavor. They have made themselves available repeatedly for our staff and our students. We have developed a great relationship with them, and our school and student body will benefit from this.”

For more information on Acadia Hospital, go to: www.acadiahospital.org.

To learn more about resources, visit the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website at: www.aacap.org.

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