IPSD204 holds its first-ever Mental Health Symposium

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Indian Prairie School District 204 (IPSD204) hosted its first-ever Mental Health Symposium on Saturday at Metea Valley High School.

A changing mental health landscape

Mental health experts say that the rise of social media has forever changed the mental health landscape.

“Parenting today is a little bit more complicated than it was when we were growing up and when they (current parents) were growing up as a young person,” said KidsMatter CEO, Nina Menis. “So things that they might have remembered as a young person, things that they did with their families. Today, it’s a little bit of a different landscape and what I liked about some of the speakers speaking about, is a ‘shifting landscape.’”

IPSD204 planned the symposium after a parent education survey recorded that sixty-six percent of respondents requested topics related to mental health.

What parents did at the Mental Health Symposium

The day began with a keynote speaking session, hosted by KidsMatter in partnership with Linden Oaks and Fox Valley Institute. The mental health experts teamed up with the Naperville Police Department and discussed the struggles kids face and how parents can help.

“The really key message that I took away from today was the importance of relationships,” said Menis. “Things that you can do with your child, just to go for a walk, to talk to them about their friends, How’s it going in school? We’re all moving so quickly.”

Following the keynote speakers, attendees could choose one of five topics from two sets of breakout sessions. The district looked for speakers from local agencies that related to the mental health topics parents wanted to learn more about.

“One of the things that we have seen and I think we anticipated it, is just how valuable it is when our parents have the opportunity to connect with staff members,” said IPSD204 SEL and Wellness Coordinator, Dawn Forkner. “Or parents had the opportunity to connect with community members, or agencies they may not have realized existed.  Getting to hear speakers, but also having that really valuable conversation with each other about what’s going on with their children and being able to share ideas and share resources.”

Local organizations are here to help

Over 100 parents were in attendance to learn more about youth mental health. The day ended with a community resource fair, which featured a handful of local organizations.

“We want to let parents know that they’re not alone. They have a lot of resources for them in the community. And we’re all in this together,” said Menis.

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