Kids in Crisis Town Hall

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Kids in Crisis

Contributor: Nanci Micke, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at United Way Fox Cities

When Pam Henson, the former publisher of Post-Crescent Media, moved to the Fox Cities she had lunch with Peter Kelly, our CEO at United Way Fox Cities. Her main question: “What are the issues that I need to be aware of in this community?” Peter’s reply was to take a look at the Fox Cities LIFE Study and see the statistics around youth depression and suicide. The stats were shocking. In 2006, 14% of our students had reported attempting suicide, a higher percentage than both the state and national averages. In 2016, there was a small improvement, with the percentage decreasing to 12%, but still major cause for concern.

From that lunch, the idea for the “Kids in Crisis” series was born. Gannett (parent company to the Post-Crescent and other media outlets) has published the Kids in Crisis articles for the past two years. The series has provided an in-depth look at the mental health issues facing our kids. Over the next several months, town hall meetings will take place across the state to further community awareness on these serious topics. On March 6th, the first town hall meeting was held in Appleton. It was the night of the snowstorm and still there was a room full of people at the Paper Valley Hotel.

During the town hall, we heard from eight young people who, in a Storycatchers format, told of their experience battling with the demons of mental illness. It was hard to hear a 12-year-old speak of dealing with mental illness from his earliest memories. Others shared stories of being bullied, sexually assaulted, cutting, and suicide attempts. As difficult as it was for them to share their stories, and as hard as it was to hear them, there was hope in each and every message. The importance of having a support team, a friend to talk to, a loving family, an understanding teacher, or a trusted counselor, was a part of every person’s survival.

In addition to the Storycatchers, a panel offered advice on where to get help, highlighted programs and resources available in the community, and encouraged each of us to get involved, if this is an issue that touches our hearts. If you missed the event this week, you can watch the recording online. If you are interested in attending a town hall meeting, you can mark your calendar for one of these upcoming scheduled events: