Children & Mental Health: Public Awareness Campaign Discussion with Tracee Perryman, PhD

Q: Why is it so important to be talking about mental health right now – especially in the case of children?

A: It’s not front of mind for people, but children can also suffer from mental health challenges. I’m here to say: Don’t ignore the signs.

  • Mental health visits for children aged five-11 are up 24 percent since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.
  • Good mental health is really important. It helps children develop socially, emotionally, mentally and physically.

Q: How does the pandemic fit in? What’s the impact on children’s mental health?

A: Recent national studies show that:

  • More than 25 percent of high school students reported worsening emotional and cognitive health and over 20 percent of parents with children ages five-12 reported similar worsening conditions for their children.
  • There has been a large decline in pediatric mental health care usage since the start of the pandemic. While access to mental health services via telehealth has increased, mental health services via schools likely decreased with closures.
  • In addition to loneliness and isolation in light of public health safety measures, the poor mental health of parents could be a contributing factor in negative mental health outcomes for children.

Q: What do you see happening her in Lucas County with kids?

Q: Why are common signs of depression in children?

A: I’m glad you asked:

  • Feeling and/or expressing guilt or a general sense of uselessness
  • Not paying attention when others are focused
  • Ongoing irritability much of the time
  • Passing on fun activities
  • Changes in behavior such as eating more or less, sleeping more, or feeling tired, tense or droopy.
  • Signs of self-injury (cutting, scraping) and self-destructive behavior

Q: What are some tips you have for parents that want to help better their kid’s mental health?

A: Again, have a healthy mental health state is really crucial as it helps children develop socially, emotionally, mentally and physically. I suggest these parenting tips to promote mental health at home:

  • Encourage healthy relationships
  • Establish a routine
  • Make children feel loved, even after a mistake
  • Build resilience, and elevate hope.


Q: Where can people turn to if their child is experiencing a mental health crisis or challenges that they simply don’t know how to handle?

  • Text 4HOPE to 741 741


From The Truth’s Archives: April 2021

Be Well Toledo: Struggle No More Campaign Raises Awareness About Mental Health And Wellness Impacts of Pandemic

In a typical year, one out of every five adults struggle with mental health. No one could say 2020 was a typical year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 40 percent of adults described having challenges with mental health in 2020. Tracee Perryman, PhD, CEO of the Center of Hope Family Services, saw these statistics playing out in the lives of those around her, and decided to take action and gather critical, life-saving information on how to get help to Toledoans.

Perryman explained, “I’m closely connected to friends, family, and church members who have been personally impacted by the pandemic. With people all around me suffering from ripple effect of the pandemic, I felt compelled to get involved and serve as an instrument of change.”

In late 2020, Perryman launched a campaign to encourage minority populations to wear masks to guard against coronavirus infections and help pave a path toward greater vaccine compliance as well. The premise of the “Mask Up Toledo” campaign was simple: use education and an upbeat music video to encourage more people to wear masks, especially among minority populations the virus is known to disproportionately affect. Since the pandemic’s onset, National Center for Health Statistics data has shown that people of color are almost three times as likely to contract coronavirus compared to their white counterparts, and twice as likely to die from it.

Inspired by the success of the Mask Up Toledo campaign and wanting to further help the community, Perryman started to focus on understanding and spreading education on the deep and long-lasting impacts of the pandemic on individual’s mental health and wellness.

“When launching this second public awareness campaign, I felt confident that addressing the mental health challenges and consequences of these lockdowns was imperative,” said Perryman. “I couldn’t stop thinking about the children being out of school for almost a year … the stress the pandemic has put on parents trying to work and take on additional responsibilities … the anxiety brought on by those now unemployed, not to mention the impact on those who have lost loved ones. It’s a lot to process for everyone. So, I asked myself: how can I help?”

With Perryman leading the effort, the Center of Hope Family Services, the Ohio Mental Health & Addiction Services, and the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Lucas County, recently launched another powerful public awareness campaign called “Be Well Toledo: Struggle No More” emphasizing the need for mental health and wellness for minority populations.”