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National Children's Mental Health Acceptance Week Youth Panel

National Children's Mental Health Acceptance Week Youth Panel

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Join us to hear a panel of young adults reflect on what acceptance of their mental health needs would have meant for them as children/youth.

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After 17 years, we've re-defined the CMHA campaign! Previously, Children's Mental Health Awareness, the "A" now stands for Acceptance.

One positive impact of a pandemic that has challenged everyone's mental health is that now more than ever, people are talking about it and know it's important. So, it's time to move beyond the term awareness. This significant shift to "acceptance" speaks more directly to the goal of the National Children's Mental Health Week campaign - to eliminate prejudice and discrimination that individuals with a mental illness diagnosis or symptoms experience.

We believe the term acceptance more directly combats prejudice. Mental health exists on a spectrum and almost everyone experiences challenges at some point in their life. Recognizing that our mental health is just as important as our physical health and accepting individuals who struggle for a period - or for their lifetime - is critical to reducing the fear, worry, blame, and shame that families and their loved ones experience - and increases the likelihood that those who are in need will seek the support and treatment they deserve.

In recognition of CMHAW, The National Federation of Families is hosting a powerful youth panel of young adults with lived experience who will reflect on what acceptance of their mental health needs and challenges would have meant to them as children and youth. Please join us in this national dialogue. It's time to move beyond awareness and into acceptance, to face the serious challenges our youth are facing, and to invest in the next generation for the wellbeing of our country.

Visit the CMHAW website to learn more about the meaning behind this year's CMHAW campaign. Check out these recently published infographics and feel free to download them to help promote acceptance in your community.

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Meet Our Panelists:

Rwenshaun Miller

Rwenshaun Miller understands that there’s more to a person than their mental health diagnosis.

Mental health doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone regardless of age, race, gender, etc. As a young Black educator living with bipolar disorder, Mr. Miller knows that his struggle will be more difficult than others. He’s here to tell you that you don’t have to struggle alone.

As an accomplished author, speaker, counselor, and consultant, he has dedicated his life to not only reshaping the negative connotations associated with mental health, but also directly impacting the lives of those living with mental health challenges. His life’s work is to uplift, empower, encourage, and teach others who live with mental health challenges how to “thrive” in their lives.

Mr. Miller uses his experience to create safe spaces for open and honest dialogue about mental health. Through his nonprofit, Eustress, Inc., he assists youth in under-served communities to identify and overcome mental health challenges to achieve healthier, productive lifestyles.

He is passionate about bringing mental health awareness to the forefront of the Black community, so he obtained his master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to change the availability of black male therapists. Mr. Miller is a practicing mental health counselor in Charlotte, North Carolina at his private practice, The Good Stress Company.

Mr. Miller not only wants to empower those who struggle with mental health, but those who support this community as well. He created Be Who You Needed, a program that provides consultancy services and training to therapists and like-minded individuals to empower them to make the greatest impact in the mental health field.

Mr. Miller’s achievements in mental health wellness have been widely recognized. He has been featured on TEDx, The Weather Channel, Complex, Huffington Post, Power 105.1FM’s “The Breakfast Club,” Blavity, and The Good Men Project. He is also the recipient of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation award for Advancing Minority Mental Health, SXSW Community Service Award, and Omega Psi Phi’s Brother Paul Woods Bridge Builder Award.

Of all his accolades and roles, however, Mr. Miller proudly first serves as a mental health change agent. Mr. Miller’s inspirational work has globally impacted countless lives and under-served populations through his compassion, transparency, and awareness.

Francesca Reicherter

Francesca Reicherter is the Founder and President of Inspiring My Generation, a 501(c)3 in support of mental health awareness and suicide prevention, and is currently pursuing her master's in psychology at Pepperdine University. Inspired by her mental health journey, Francesca works to make resources and information accessible, namely through her 1) workbook series: "You Are Not Alone: The Workbook," a guide to help the reader build a coping toolbox and “I AM,” a guide to help the reader build tools to advocate for their mental health, and 2) "Normalize The Conversation" podcast series amplifying the voices of mental health professionals, advocates, and any individual interested in sharing their story.

Andrew Velasco

Andrew Velasco is an Arizona public school educator and a passionate mental health advocate. As a child, Andy was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD). The challenges he faced were further compounded by diagnoses of anxiety and depression during high school. He didn’t feel he had a trusted adult he could confide in and he struggled to reach out for support to help him cope with difficult thoughts and feelings. These lived experiences sparked his passion for helping other youth and led to his calling to teach. Today, Andy is finishing his second year as a high school English teacher. His second, and equally-important goal as an educator, is to help youth realize whatever they are feeling – it’s ok.

Dylan Nason

Dylan is a 25-year old advocate for mental health. He received mental health treatment briefly as a child, then later as an adult. He is passionate about sharing his lived experience because he believes when people understand the mental health system, and can articulate its challenges, real change can begin.

Dylan started therapy at 10 years old because he had been sexually abused. However, he was only taken to a handful of appointments before they stopped. He was reintroduced to the mental health system at 18 when his drug use sent him into psychosis and his self-harm had become much more intense. After three years of hospitalizations and residential facilities, he started his journey to maintain his recovery while rebuilding his life. Part of that journey has been volunteering and looking for ways he can advocate for effective mental health treatment and empower others by sharing his story.

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