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'Heal Young Minds' campaign ignites city-wide conversation

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On May 16, people across Houston joined their voices — and their foreheads — in support of children's mental health. As part of DePelchin's "Heal Young Minds" campaign, hundreds of Houstonians wore band-aids on their foreheads — a gesture meant to spark community dialogue and begin the process of erasing misconceptions about disorders of the brain.

“One in five children in the Greater Houston area is affected by mental health issues, including ADHD, depression and anxiety,” says Dr. Oscar Bukstein, medical director at DePelchin. “Not only do these children and their families have to deal with the actual disorder, they also have to deal with the stigma that is associated with mental health issues. And that hurts even more.”

Bukstein says DePelchin's green band-aid symbolizes the connection between mental health and healing.

"The band-aid was a simple way for us to communicate the reality of mental health issues and the help that is available for them."

To drive community awareness about children’s mental health, DePelchin distributed Heal Young Minds band-aids throughout the community in early May, encouraging people to wear them on their forehead on May 16, proclaimed as “Children’s Mental Health Houston Day” by the City of Houston.

“The response was overwhelming,” says Mary Kristen Valentine, director of marketing and public relations at DePelchin. “We distributed more than 15,000 band-aids across Greater Houston – with many people requesting band-aids not only for themselves but also to pass along to their friends, colleagues, schools and civic groups.”

The campaign was also supported by a number of outreach events, including the Houston Art Car Parade and concerts at Discovery Green, in addition to awareness messaging via Houstonia Magazine and CultureMap.

Along with wearing a band-aid, DePelchin asked participants in the campaign to drive awareness by posting photos of themselves wearing their band-aid via social media.

“People were more than willing to share our message via their social networks,” Valentine says. “We are so grateful to everyone who took the time to help us spread the word.”

Though the main thrust of the campaign has ended, Valentine says DePelchin will use momentum from the campaign to forge greater collaboration within the community and raise further support for children’s mental health services.

“I believe we truly did ignite a city-wide conversation that will result not only in greater awareness of mental health issues but also more help for children and their families.”