It’s time to address the invisible problem affecting Lincoln County youth

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The statistics on youth mental health in Lincoln County are shocking. According to the 2017 North West Region Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 13 percent of our middle school age children have attempted suicide at least once in the last year. Furthermore, the Lincoln County Community Health Assessment found that 42 percent of youth in the area report symptoms of depression.

Plenty of time can be spent speculating as to why the rate of mental health problems in our area is so high; it is evident that it cannot be ignored. No child should feel alone or helpless. No child should believe that suicide is their best option.

We, as a community, need to continue to mobilize our resources and provide the support our children and families deserve. Already, we have seen community leaders working together to create more efficient referral processes to mental health services. Our schools are beginning to introduce trauma-informed approaches to their practice, which supports rather than penalizes children who have difficulties in class. We have made a start, but families continue to face barriers in accessing services and there is more work to be done.

I want to reiterate the commitment our agency and our staff have to this community. I want parents to know that our doors are always open to families and children in need of support. I encourage anyone who would like more information to reach out directly to 406-300-7021.

If you or someone in your life is struggling, please know that there are people and resources out there that are ready and available to help.

Jessica Curry is the Libby area manager of Youth Dynamics.

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