Children’s Mental Health is focus of ‘Communities in Action’ symposium at Bowdoin College

Posted Sept. 17, 2013, at 11:47 a.m.
Last modified Sept. 28, 2013, at 1:47 p.m.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — A group of Maine healthcare providers and community leaders in Mid Coast Maine began meeting more than a year ago to share growing concerns about the increasing number of Maine children struggling with mental health challenges. They decided to take the discussion to the community level.

On Saturday, Oct. 5, Bowdoin College in Brunswick will host a “Communities in Action” symposium to provide a better understanding of the behavioral and mental health challengers facing today’s children and younger adults.

The facts are startling. According to a new report by the CDC, one in five children from age birth to 18 has a diagnosable mental disorder, and nearly 5 million American children and adolescents suffer from a serious mental illness that significantly interferes with their day-to-day life.

“Twenty percent of children will have some type of mental health diagnosis. I am seeing many more young children struggling with some very severe behavioral and mental health issues” said Dr. Deborah Hagler, a pediatrician at Martin’s Point Health Care and one of the symposium organizers and presenters. “We don’t have enough support for the volume of problems we are starting to see. It takes a team to help children and families with mental health challenges. Having a community conversation is a good thing going forward.”

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Maine’s leading child and family specialists, medical experts, and community leaders will hold various workshops throughout the daylong symposium. Renowned neuroscientist and researcher Dr. Pat Levitt at the University of Southern California will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Leavitt will share his latest research on the impact of stress and trauma on children’s brain development and the role of the community in prevention and intervention.

Organizers are hoping state and local policymakers, business and community leaders, clergy, teachers, counselors, physicians, social workers, home visitors, coaches, mentor, and other professionals who work with children and families will attend.

The event sponsors are the United Way of Mid Coast Maine, Mid Coast Hospital, Bowdoin, Lunder-Dineen Health Education Alliance of Maine, Martin’s Point Heath Care, John T. Gorman Foundation, The Bingham Program, Fair Point Communications, FHC, Norway Savings Bank, Bath Savings Institution, Sweetser, Bowdoin College Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good, Community Counseling Center and the Davenport Trust Fund.

For more information, and to register, go to www.letstartearly.org or contact Mid Coast United Way at 207-443-9752.

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