McAllen schools plan summit on mental health topics

The stress of school and growing into adulthood can be trying for many students and their families.

To help them cope with these issues, the McAllen school district will host the 2nd annual Mental Health Awareness Community Summit from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at James “Nikki” Rowe High School.

Four psychiatrists will speak on various mental health topics. There will be breakout sessions addressing topics such eating disorders and anxiety. The free event is open to the public and will be available in English and Spanish. The district partnered with Tropical Texas Behavioral Health, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Behavioral Hospital and South Texas Health System Behavioral to host the event.

“Creating mental health awareness… and helping families and staff members understand there are resources out there,” are two major goals, said Adrian Garza, family treatment program manager.

They can spread the word about resources available to those who way struggle with mental health, he said. Reducing stigma and addressing mental health openly may enable family to seek help or recognize it among family.

Helping children with mental health issues through “early intervention” will go a long way for their success, Garza said. May is also Mental Health Awareness Month.

The forum also plays into the school district’s mission in teaching children emotional intelligence.

A panel composed of three of the speakers will address depression and open up a discussion on their podcast, “Shrink Box,” which addresses various mental health topics.

Drs. Ricardo Irizarry, German Corso and Daniel Gutierrez launched the podcast to educate and break stigma surrounding mental health.

Corso said it’s an informal way to learn and understand how their mental state relates to their well-being. Having a podcast can be like “having a conversation” and is relatable to the average person. Hopefully this can spur those suffering to seek help and potentially save lives, he said.

The podcast offers an accessible means to be educated, he said.

“We want people walking out there thinking mental health is everyone’s business… I want people to feel or understand that this is very important, that this can save lives and is as important as medical health,” Corso said. People should be more attentive and lookout for each other, he added.

Dr. Adrian Agapito will deliver the keynote speech regarding ADHD.