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Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas focus on mental health during COVID-19 pandemic

The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and the Okay to Say campaign partnered up to overcome the stigma of mental illness.

DALLAS — Mental health is an important part of the conversation when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. That's why the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas aren't shying away from it. 

"I am very worried for the girls," said Jennifer Bartowski, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. "Girls are facing a much different world today than even six to eight months ago." 

She said she has noticed learning loss and social and emotional changes in their kids.

About a year ago, the organization partnered with the Okay to Say campaign. Girl Scouts can earn a patch as they navigate their mental health and learn to speak up about their feelings. There are activities for the girls, catered to their age.

"All of us are feeling some kind of stress or anxiety. It is normalizing that feeling and hopefully with this Okay to Say patch, girls will feel more comfortable asking for help," said Bartowski, who knows it's important to tackle the problems at a young age.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses develop by age 14 and 75% develop by age 24.

Shelby Abeyta, the campaign director of Okay to Say, emphasizes the importance about talking about and treating mental health illnesses. 

"It's so important to speak up, and if you think about mental health disease like heart disease or cancer, that early treatment is so important for better outcomes," said Abeyta. 

She wanted to remind people that they don't have to feel alone if they are struggling with mental health. There are resources available to help.

Resources:

Learn more about Okay to Say

NAMI's list of warning signs, other mental health information

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else.