BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Local officials came together Monday to discuss the services and resources available for dealing with mental health issues.
Representatives from Crosspoint Human Services and Danville District 118 School District joined others from Vermilion County Probation, the City of Danville and Big Brothers Big Sisters for the town hall meeting at the Bremer Conference Center at Danville Area Community College.
Kathy Vines, a social worker at Hoopeston Area School District and president of the Vermilion County 708 Mental Health Board, told those in attendance the meeting was to “strengthen and reinforce our safety in our community.”
Dee Ann Ryan, executive director of the county’s mental health board, said the intent is to look for solutions and have better interventions that do work.
“The bottom line is we have a lot of angry, hurting children,” Ryan said.
Presentations were offered from a variety of perspectives as part of the event, including South View Middle School Principal Brenda Yoho, who talked about the issues from the school side. She stressed how school personnel build relationships with students.
“Students need to feel safe, they need to feel secure and they need to feel validated,” she said. District 118 personnel, she later pointed out, work almost as assistant coaches to support students’ main life coaches — their parents. “We work to be sure they are supplied with the resources they need,” she told the group.
Among the presenters was Dottie McLaughlin of I Sing the Body Electric, who offered statistics from the program’s 2010 survey of students in Vermilion County. She pointed out female depression increased in Vermilion County from 31.9 percent in 2002 to 40.6 percent in 2010. Male depression increased only 5.6 percent in that same time frame.
“You see a lot of our kids are really hurting,” she said. “Who knows why? Obviously there are a lot of reasons.”
Despite the depression spike, statistics from the 2010 report noted that the number of youths seriously considering suicide has gone down, dropping 22 percent since 2002.