May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which goes hand in hand with HALO’s mission and purpose. We strive to support homeless and at-risk children through housing, healing, and education so they can become contributing members of society. Therapeutic art is one of the ways we encourage our kids to express their emotions and goals in life to promote mental health. All youth have a multitude of stressors to deal with on a day-to-day basis, but homelessness especially adds a dimension of complexity to this area.
Across the Kansas City area, over 8,000 students from 17 school districts reported they were homeless at some point during the 2017-2018 academic school year, according to the Kansas City Star. Additionally, a Children’s Mercy survey found a rise in eight types of childhood trauma since 2015, many of which are closely related to homelessness. HALO gives children the foundation of a family and places an emphasis on mental health that many do not receive elsewhere. Because no child should feel unworthy due to their circumstances, and every child matters.
To the right are a few statistics on mental health and Kansas City youth that are linked to homelessness. These numbers were recently reported by the Kansas City Star from a survey conducted by Children's Mercy.
Aubony Chalfant has been a member of our staff for many years serving as our Kansas City Program Facilitator. She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor, and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team, here at HALO. Each week, members of our staff come together for a meeting we lovingly call "Group Soup." During these training sessions, Aubony educates us on various topics and techniques. She also educates us on the importance of self care, especially as individuals working in a field that is centered around helping others. To be the most effective in helping our youth, we have to make sure we're also taking care of ourselves.
Here's what Aubony has to say about the importance of mental health for our organization:
"Mental health is just as important as physical health, and even affects physical health if left untreated. Because we can't always see a mental health issue like you can a broken bone or physical ailment, we ignore it or just aren't aware. We wouldn't expect someone with untreated diabetes to function healthily in society without their insulin, so why do we expect children and adults with untreated PTSD, bi-polar disorder, major anxiety or depression, etc. to be able to? The thought is absolutely ludicrous. 100% of homeless youth have a diagnosable mental health issue, so my job is to bring the latest mental health research and trainings to our HALO staff so we can treat ALL areas of our HALO youths' health."
Our Mental Health Workshop
It is so important to us to empower each and every child that enters our doors. To let them know that someone cares for them, is in their corner, and sees their value. Check out some of the various art projects we've been working on in our workshops, and handwritten notes that are included in our Power Packs.