Teen strives to raise awareness for mental health awareness during South Dakota State Fair.

Posted: 8/25/2021

Teen strives to raise awareness for mental health awareness during South Dakota State Fair.

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Statistics indicate 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year, and 1 in 6 U.S. youth between the ages of 6 and 17 are affected by a mental health disorder. Additionally, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34. Those staggering statistics have prompted one South Dakota teen to lead efforts to create more awareness for mental health.

"I want to help people of all ages simply be aware of the importance of caring for their mental health and reaching out for help when they need it," says Matea Gordon, whose involvement with 4-H and FFA has helped her recognize the resources available for those needing help.

She notes that because 4-H green will be a prevalent color worn by 4-H youth at the 2021 South Dakota State Fair in Huron, Sept. 2-6., she thought it was a great opportunity to spotlight green for another reason - the green ribbon is the international symbol for mental health awareness.

Working with the South Dakota State Fair and Avera Farm and Rural Stress hotline, Gordon will be placing posters with encouraging messages to overcome challenges, as well as the Farm and Rural Stress contact information, in the restrooms across the State Fairgrounds in an effort to raise more awareness for mental health. She will also be working with several state ag organizations to hand-out mental health resources at their booths to fairgoers - from stickers and bookmarks to green ribbon vehicle magnets and stress balls. These items will be offered at the Farmer's Union, South Dakota Pork Producers and 4-H booths, as well as several others.

"Stress is a regular part of life, but we all need to find ways to care for our mental health through quiet time, talking through challenges with a friend, and allowing our bodies and minds to rest. But, from time to time we may need to reach out and ask for extra help, and I want people to realize that is O.K," states Gordon, who will be a senior at Sturgis Brown High School and through involvement in 4-H and FFA has attended the South Dakota State Fair for 14 consecutive years. For individuals seeking more mental health resources contact the Avera Farm and Rural Stress hotline at 1-800-691-4336. The call is free and confidential and available 24 hours a day.


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