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State launches website to address young people's mental health

The state Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services has launched a new website -- www.TurningPointCT.org -- that was designed by and for young people as a resource for mental wellness.

The statistics concerning suicide, depression, eating disorders, binge drinking, drug use, bullying and other mental-health issues are alarming, affecting children as young as those in elementary school, according to a news release from the department.

The growing crisis led the department to fund a statewide project that began in January 2013 and was launched this summer. Managed by the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board in Norwalk, along with a team of young adults in recovery around Connecticut, TurningPointCT.org was developed to help young people understand their options and learn how to navigate the behavioral health system with treatment models, local community supports, state and national resources, a question-and-answer guide, infographics, real stories, videos and the "Let's Talk" discussion forum.

TurningPointCT.org aims to reach the population of young adults of high school/college age and beyond who are at serious risk. Almost one out of four high school students and close to half of college students report symptoms of depression. Among high school students, 14.6 percent of have contemplated suicide during the previous year and 8.9 percent of report not eating for 24 hours or more due to their body image. One quarter of state residents over age 12 report binge drinking (five-plus drinks at one time) and 10.3 percent of children ages 12 to 17 report using drugs.

According to National Survey on Drug Use and Health, one out of five college students experienced major psychological distress and 10 percent experienced a major depression during the preceding year. Only 11 percent of this age group is receiving services.

The effort for TurningPointCT.org began with 15 focus groups throughout the state that elicited insights from teens and young adults ages 16 to 35. Half of the young people in the focus groups reported experiencing mental health issues themselves. A young adult advisory group was convened to develop the concept and broad content areas for TurningPointCT.org.

TurningPointCT.org's mission is to empower teens and young adults in their search for emotional and mental health. The website provides a platform to ask questions, seek answers, share personal stories and get support from peers.

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