‘Mental illnesses are real & treatable’, Program introduces children to mental health in Middle Tennessee

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As students near the end of an unprecedented school year a program in Middle Tennessee is working to help with their mental health.

Mental Health America of the MidSouth is trying to get the word out about the ETSY program. “ETSY” stands for “Erase The Stigma Through Youth.”

It educates children about their mental health and emotional well-being and it teaches them coping skills.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the program coordinator said they worked to introduce children to this aspect of their lives.

“We also help them with identifying what we call trusted adults so when they are in a mental health crisis or what we call a bad mental health day we go over those slides. So we introduce mental health education and resources,” said Ashley Nunnally, ETSY Program Coordinator for Middle Tennessee. “We also have a really good mascot called “I-C Hope” and what’s interesting about the mascot is he has a bandage and a life preserver so to speak, so the bandage is a reminder that mental illnesses are real and treatable and the preserver is a reminder that life is valuable and worth saving.”

The program is available for children in Pre-K through 12th grade with different presentations for each age group.

“It’s okay to not be okay but it’s not okay to not ask for help,” said Nunnally. “We just want kids to know that mental health is something that everyone has but most recently, of course, the pandemic that was something new for the world. And adults are still having a hard time transitioning to what our new norm is so just realizing that the children are going through the same thing so they might have a hard time processing.”

Nunnally said parents, teachers, summer camp directors or anyone else working with children can sign up. The presentations are at no cost, and can be done virtually.

“We have a grant to service Middle Tennessee but we also have a program but we also have a program for West Tennessee,” Nunnally said.

You can email Nunnally at anunnally@mhamidsouth.org for more information, or visit the MHA MidSouth Facebook Page.

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