Youth summit on anxiety, depression in kids being held at Wittenberg

Focus is to understand kids’ experiences, empower them to mitigate through youth-led activities.

A Youth Summit is being held at Wittenberg University today on depression and anxiety in kids.

The summit is being held until 2 p.m. for middle and high school students in the Springfield City School District and high school students in the Clark-Shawnee Local School District, according to a release from WellSpring, an organization with counseling and support programs to those who want a better quality of life.

Beth Dixon, Prevention Education Coordinator at WellSpring, has partnered with Ashley Mack, Assistant Director of Prevention at the Mental Health Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties and Kyle Johnson with Springfield schools to host this summit at Wittenberg University’s Shoulvin Center. Other sponsors include the Wittenberg Education Department and the Clark County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

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“The focus of the summit is to understand why young kids are experiencing depression and anxiety and then empowering them to mitigate their experiences through youth-led activities,” Dixon said.

There are 60 students anticipated to be in attendance who will go through a series of breakout sessions “with the intent of empowering them to develop strategies focused on prevention of depression and anxiety among themselves and their peers,” Dixon said.

The summit will include keynote speaker Ty Sells on Finding Hope; students will break into small groups to discuss the root causes of depression and anxiety and select one focus area; students will develop a strategy focused on preventing depression and anxiety; students will present their project plan to the entire group; lunch and roundtable discussions; Wittenberg student panel; and a speech by Jim Ryan on Be The Change.

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The final session will feature a panel of Wittenberg students who are in Brian Yontz’s Youth Advocacy course.

“Our hope is to allow the middle and high school students see that even college students experience similar stress and anxiety, but they too, find ways to not only personally support their emotional wellbeing, but also advocate for the emotional well-being of their peers,” Dixon said.

Before the summit, Dixon said they surveyed 643 students in Clark County and found that one in two of them identify depression and anxiety as the number one health concern facing kids their own age. After the findings, the organization held focus groups in each of the schools to find out why students think kids are feeling depressed — they said the top three reasons are parents, social media and bullying/cyber bullying.

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