With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting not only parents but also children, including teens, the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities is hosting an event to address teens’ health.

July 21 at 1 p.m., the department will host a virtual community conversation titled “Protecting the Mental Health of Our Future Leaders: Fulton Teens Speak Up during This Time of National Upheaval.” It will answer the following questions regarding teens during the outbreak: How are they handling stress? Who is helping them navigate these difficult times? What do they need to cope and move forward during a period that is unprecedented?

The conversation can be viewed on the Fulton TV YouTube channel at https://bit.ly/2O3UBHJ. Interested parents, adults or youth can submit questions by emailing social@fultoncountyga.gov. All questions can be addressed anonymously.

What are some of the teens’ concerns? Harshita Challa, a rising junior at Milton High School and a member of the Fulton County Youth Commission, said, “I have experienced a lack of structure, social isolation and, at one time, fear of even going into the back yard or touching a door knob.” In describing the impact of COVID-19 on her life, Challa adds she has not allowed fears to overcome her current activities or future ambitions.

Vedu Mallela, a rising senior at Northview High School who serves as the commission’s chair, also points to isolation and restrictions.

“I really can’t go out anymore and grab a meal or visit my older brother,” he said. Mallela added the upcoming school year will be tough as the schools and teachers work to ensure health and safety, but he is ready to return to school.

Joining the teens is a panel of professionals who have extensive experience in working with both youth and adults on issues regarding behavioral health, civil rights, social justice and community involvement. They include:

♦ LaTrina Foster, the department’s director and the event’s moderator

♦ Dr. Sultan Simms, the behavioral health medical director for Georgia/South Carolina WellCare Health Plans Inc.

♦ Mwalimu Olatunji Lumumba, MSW, founder of the Male Action Coalition

♦ Dustin Poole of Black Mental Health Matters

For more information about Behavioral Health Services, call 404-613-6385.


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