‘Free Your Feels’ – The Newnan Times-Herald | #socialmedia | #children

Photo courtesy Voices for Georgia’s Children

Voices for Georgia’s Children and the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities have partnered to raise awareness about youth mental health.

Voices and DBHDD recently launched the “Free Your Feels” mental health awareness campaign to encourage Georgia’s youth to explore and share their feelings.

“Collectively, we can make a positive impact across our state, particularly given the current situation of social isolation and physical distancing,” according to a press release from Voices and DBHDD.

Georgia youth are returning to school either virtually or in an environment that is drastically different from the one they left in March. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, students were already facing a mental health crisis – one that is now exacerbated by these uncertain times.

“More than ever, mental health advocates must come together to ensure youth find the help and resources they need,” the release states.

Voices and DBHDD report that 1 in 5 kids have a mental illness that would benefit from treatment, and 1 in 8 teens suffer from depression. In 2019, nearly 40,000 students in Georgia reported having attempted suicide on the Georgia Student Health Survey.

The year-long “Free Your Feels” campaign equips children, teens, parents, caregivers and educators to “Speak. Listen. Connect.” It empowers youth to speak out and express their real feelings, encourages adults and peers to check-in with each other and listen judgement free, and connects everyone to resources for further guidance or help.

“We are asking everyone to join the #freeyourfeels campaign on social media and cultivate an environment where it is not only safe to express your feelings, but it is celebrated,” the release states.

The campaign builds connection and increases awareness through digital tools, such as social media, the “Free Your Feels” website, and other resources provided to childcare providers and school districts to share with youth.

“Data shows our children have been in crisis for years,” said Dr. Erica Fener Sitkoff, executive director for Voices for Georgia’s Children. “By freeing their feels, children and teens can get the help they need before it becomes a matter of life and death. We have to dispel the stigma surrounding talking about mental health.”

“DBHDD and all of our community partners have worked together to make sure there are resources for youth and their families and, most importantly, to connect them with these resources. We are excited to be a part of the Free Your Feels campaign!” said DBHDD Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald.

For more information about the “Free Your Feels” campaign, visit www.freeyourfeels.org . Follow the campaign on Instagram @free.your.feels and on Voices’ Facebook and Twitter pages.

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