It’s okay not to feel okay.

#ItsOk

A letter from the Commissioner

On behalf of the Department of Mental Health, I am delighted you have found Different Kinds of Hurt: Isaac’s Story, developed by youth and mental health experts. Isaac’s Story is a wonderful jumping-off point for conversations about the power of friendship, the pain of stigma, and the importance of paying attention to and encouraging all youth who are wounded somehow to find their strength, rely on friends, family and helpers, hang on to their dreams, and to live a life with joy and meaning. Please use the film, book, and resource materials and be the difference in a child’s life. The best hope of a youth or an adult to recover from mental illness is to be loved and cared for by others. Do not hesitate to contact DMH or any of the resources listed if you know someone who may need help.

Sincerely,
Joan Mikula
Commissioner
Department of Mental Health

Why talking to kids about mental health is important

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One-in-ten children have a diagnosable mental health issue.

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Children with untreated mental health issues are more likely to self-harm, drop out of school, abuse drugs and alcohol, and be incarcerated.

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In the last 10 years, suicide rates among adolescents has doubled.

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For many adults who have mental disorders, symptoms were present—but often not recognized or addressed—in childhood and adolescence.

Summary

Different Kinds of Hurt: Isaac’s Story, an animated film and graphic novel for elementary and middle school-aged children, shows how an honest conversation about “different kinds of hurting” between two classmates can have a life long effect. Isaac and Mia have been out of school for a while— Mia’s fall sent her to the E.R. and she has a cast and crutches, but Isaac looks fine. He explains that he was in a “different kind of hospital,” one that helps when thoughts and feelings are hurting. As they compare notes about how they knew they needed help, what the hospital and doctors were like, and their fears and hopes for the future, they realize that physical and mental health aren’t all that different; both require sharing your feelings to help the healing.

The Importance of Mental Health

Signs to look for mental health issues

Mental health warning signs in children

What to do if you suspect a child is struggling with mental health

Additional resources: books, websites, films, etc.

Signs to look for mental health issues

Mental health is an important part of overall well-being for children as well as adults. For a young person exhibiting signs of a mental health issue, the earlier treatment is started, the more effective it can be. Mental health issues are treatable and do not have to stand in the way of a person’s goals and dreams—mental health issues DO NOT define the person. As Isaac says, “Nothing’s gonna get in MY way!”

Mental health warning signs in children

  • Often feels anxious or worried
  • Has frequent stomach aches or headaches with no physical explanation
  • Has trouble sleeping, including frequent nightmares
  • Avoids spending time with friends
  • Has trouble doing well in school, or grades decline
  • Has low or no energy
  • Has spells of intense, inexhaustible activity
  • Engages in self-harming
  • Engages in risky, destructive behavior
  • Has thoughts of suicide

What to do if you suspect a child is struggling with mental health

Who to contact:

  • School Counselor
  • Primary Care Provider
  • MassHealth Mobile Crisis Intervention 1-877-382-1609
  • Parent/Professional Advocacy League: www.ppal.net

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