As a local pediatrician at Southwest Montana Community Health Center I interact daily with children, youth, and their families. I provide acute, chronic, routine, and well child care for children up to age 21. I also provide specialty care in the areas of ADHD, diabetes, adolescent medicine, sports medicine, psychiatric issues, and asthma.
Over the years I have noticed an increase in mental health issues for children. Our community has seen this as well. I am very pleased to be a part of an organization that is addressing children’s mental health in our community. The Butte Community Council was formed four years ago to focus on early childhood system development in our community. The council is dedicated to supporting the healthy development of children and families.
We completed a comprehensive early childhood needs assessment in 2012. From this needs assessment we were able to confirm that children’s mental health was at the top of the list of priorities to address. I led the effort to form the Children’s Mental Health Committee and brought together professionals who work with children in some capacity involving mental health. Today we have over 30 partners who are dedicated to this committee and its goals.
This month we are bringing a new campaign to Butte, which focuses on providing children, youth, and adults in our community with crisis line phone numbers and text numbers. The campaign is called Cont;nue Your Story. The semi-colon in a sentence lets us know that the sentence is not over and will continue on. Likewise, the semi-colon in Cont;nue Your Story relates to real life and lets us know that even though there are hard times, our life isn’t over and it will continue on. It provides hope when life becomes overwhelming.
There are three contact numbers attached including a local crisis line at Western Montana Mental Health Center (497-9069); a national hotline (1-800-273-8255); and a text line (text Start to 741-741).
Children and youth in Butte schools will receive pens, pencils, and magnets with this information on it. It is essential that all members of our community receive this information whether they need it personally or they might share it with someone who does. Billboards and bench ads will be utilized to help spread the word about the importance of suicide prevention and providing hope.
Mental health is a critical component of a child’s overall health. All children and youth should have a primary care provider that they may talk to about their health and concerns in their life. As a community we are dedicated to supporting children and youth especially through tough times. I encourage parents and other adults to help us spread the word about providing hope and preventing suicide. Please talk to your child’s doctor if you have concerns.
The Butte Community Council is coordinated by Lynette Petritz, who is available to answer questions about the Cont;nue Your Story campaign. Please contact her at 406-723-4019 if you have any questions. Butte is fortunate to have so many people who care about others and want to see them thrive. Thank you for taking an active role in the lives of our children and youth and providing hope when it is needed most.