EVERETT — A free day-long event is scheduled here to help parents and their children navigate issues such as bullying, depression, growing up as a gay or bisexual youth and the signs of drug abuse and suicide.
The Children and Youth Mental Wellness Fair is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Evergreen Middle School, 7621 Beverly Lane in Everett. This is the second year the event has been offered in Snohomish County.
“It’s really working toward wellness and resiliency for adults and kids,” said Liza Patchen-Short, the children’s mental health liaison for Snohomish County Human Services.
More than 800 people attended last year and the goal is to have even more people this year, she said.
Other topics during the event’s workshops include: attachment and bonding; positive youth development; managing screen time and maximizing children’s learning; cutting and self harm; and healthy relationships.
Spanish interpreters will be available at the presentations. Everett Transit is providing free transportation to the event.
Families are welcome to drop in for one or two events or stay the whole day.
Last year’s youth mental wellness event was organized after a string of youth suicides in Snohomish County. In 2015, there were a dozen suicides among 12- to 19-year-olds.
Snohomish County exceeded the statewide rate for suicides among 10- to 24-year-olds in 2015, the most recent data available, with roughly 18 deaths per 100,000, while statewide it was slightly more than 12 per 100,000.
Last year, there were three teen suicides in Snohomish County, two 18-year-old men and a 15-year-old girl.
One workshop at the event will help students and adults know how to respond when they’re worried that someone may be considering taking their life.
Changes in behavior, depression, a drop in grades and a change in sleeping habits are among the warning signs.
“It’s always best to ask how they’re doing — talk to them,” Patchen-Short said.
Other activities planned during the event include drop-in art sessions provided by the Schack Art Center, hip-hop dance lessons, and activities for toddlers.
There will be an opportunity to see the Disney movie, “Inside Out,” an animated cartoon that explores emotions.
Representatives from 80 agencies that provide services to children and youth will be on hand to answer questions.
Houston Kraft, a Snohomish High School graduate who has made presentations at nearly 500 schools will be the keynote speaker.
In his talks at middle and high schools, Kraft said he’s seen students struggling with stigma and mental health issues.
Kids are dealing with everything from bullying, to suicide prevention, to issues faced by gay, lesbian, and transgender youth, he said.
Many of these issues are byproducts of a bigger problem — lack of compassion, he said.
“Anytime you’re different, young people in particular, we then hurt each other out of confusion, fear, or because we’re looking for attention or love ourselves,” Kraft said.
The message isn’t just be nice to each other, he said, but rather “do we care about caring for each other?
“Who wouldn’t want to be part of a slightly more kind world?” he said.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; [email protected]
The Children and Youth Mental Wellness Fair, a free event, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 6 at Evergreen Middle School, 7621 Beverly Lane in Everett.