Attendees of the third annual Seattle Children’s Mental Wellness Fair will be greeted by the sights and sounds of dozens of tables staffed by local organizations, live music, cake and green balloons — the color representing mental health.
The free event on Thursday, May 3, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Ocean Cafeteria at Seattle Children’s Hospital helps connect parents, kids and healthcare professionals to a network of resources and information on addressing mental health issues.
Gretchen Sullivan, manager of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Seattle Children’s, says the idea behind the event is to change the narrative around mental health. The goal is to get people thinking of their mental wellness as they do their physical wellness — something that deserves attention and care to live a healthy life.
“People so often associate mental health with mental illness,” Sullivan says, “but this is a celebration.”
The event is open to the public. Anyone who attends will have the chance to meet mental health experts and participate in activities geared toward mindfulness, including art and poetry-writing for kids of all ages.
Sullivan says the fair will bring together important community organizations including Guided Pathways, Head Start, Seattle Counseling Service, YouthCare, Community for Youth, The Center for Children With Special Needs and CorePower Yoga.
This year, the fair will also have a booth dedicated to Promoting Resilience in Stress Management (PRISM), an app created by Seattle Children’s researchers to help teens and young adults coping with medical conditions. The app guides users through mindfulness exercises like deep breathing, setting goals and remembering how to feel grateful throughout their daily lives.
Researchers have learned that resilience reduces stress and improves health. They’ve also discovered that patients who are better at dealing with stress may be less inclined toward risky behaviors such as smoking and drinking.
Now, they’re looking to expand the PRISM program. Some of program creators will talk at the fair about the how the app works and how it’s improving users’ mental outlook.
“We want to bring the research-driven PRISM program to more teens and their families,” says Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, pediatrician and chief of digital innovation at Seattle Children’s. “The experience of illness during adolescence provides a profound opportunity to nurture lifelong skills in resilience and stress management.”
Sullivan says the fair will have something for everyone. While parents and guardians will find useful resources and connections in the community for kids, people of all ages may pick up some important new tools for taking care of their health.