United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and Partners Host a Three-Part Webinar Series to Discuss the Region’s Mental Health Crisis

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Across the nation, mental health needs are rising rapidly, creating substantial impacts on all parts of life including physical health, quality of life and even a student’s ability to learn in school.

In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General has described declining mental health among youth as the crisis of our time. Here in the Greater Lehigh Valley:

  • 43% of youth report feeling depressed most days,
  • 40% of adults report symptoms of depression or anxiety,
  • 25% of seniors report feeling isolated from their community, and
  • The suicide rate is 34% higher than the state average, with Carbon County reporting the highest suicide rate among veterans in Pennsylvania.

United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley (UWGLV) with partners hosted a three-part webinar series exploring mental health and its impact on our community, the impact on the educational system and suicide trends.

UWGLV is committed to meeting the growing need for critical mental health services for children, families, older adults and veterans. You can make a difference by donating today to provide resources for:

  • Student mental health services in United Way Community Schools; 
  • Programs to combat social isolation among older adults;
  • Housing, shelter and case management for veterans;
  • In-home services for babies and parents, and more.

BSI Corporate Benefits will make an additional gift in your honor to support our neighbors’ mental health needs. All new and increased donations are eligible.

Take immediate action and click UNITED for Mental Health to make your gift today.

Session 1: Mental Health and its impact on our community

Attendees had the opportunity to hear from local health networks to get a greater understanding of the mental health crisis from a medical system. Panelists included Veronica Gonzalez, CEO at Valley Health Partners; Dr. James A. James, Chair of Psychology & Behavioral Health Department at St. Luke’s University Health Network; Dr. Edward Norris, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Session 2: Mental Health and its impact on the educational system

80% of students receiving mental health services receive them in school. Without treatment, youth with mental disorders are at risk of future unemployment, substance abuse, arrest, and other mental illnesses. The U.S. Surgeon General notes that mental health challenges are the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people. Panelists included Dr. Carol D. Birks, Superintendent, Allentown School District; Ashley Dallas, M.Ed., Director of Prevention Services, Valley Youth House; Nikolas Tsamoutalidis, Administrator of Student Support and Wellness, Bethlehem Area School District; Rob Palazzo, Principal, Panther Valley Elementary, Panther Valley School District.

Session 3: Suicide

Suicide is the leading cause of death among ages 5-44 in the Lehigh Valley. In this webinar, local experts in the field of mental health will discuss our region’s especially high suicide rate (34% higher than the state average) and how it is impacted by stigma, isolation, and access to treatment.

Attendees learned more about suicide trends in veterans, teens, the elderly, and individuals in rural areas, and the challenges in addressing the urgent and diverse mental health needs of these different groups. Speakers included representatives from the Red Cross, local suicide prevention task forces and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.