Don't Duck Mental Health
I.C. HOPE® “Don’t Duck Mental Health”® is a public awareness and education program that dispels the negative perceptions and images associated with mental illness and mental health issues. I.C. HOPE® is the Ambassador for Mental Health and Wellness. He is a symbol that is appealing to all ages and ethnic groups while bridging the socioeconomic divides of our community. This friendly duck bearing a bandage on his head symbolizing mental illness is real and treatable and a life preserver around his neck symbolizing every life is worth saving, carries the “Don’t Duck Mental Health®” message to the community. The engaging character of I.C. HOPE® evokes positive emotional responses from those who encounter him. He generates questions about the bandage he wears on his head and life preserver worn around his neck which opens the door to talking about mental illnesses as real and treatable.
Eight mental health and wellness modules with accompanying activities are available free of charge to be presented by MHASC volunteers and staff to classrooms. The I.C. HOPE® for Children and Youth curricula is a wonderful supplement to health and wellness class curricula. All presentations are made age/grade-appropriate. Teachers, school counselors, social workers, school personnel and others who work with children and youth are encouraged to utilize these curricula to educate their students on topics such as:
- Understanding Stress
- Understanding Anger
- Understanding the Effects of Bullying
- Understanding Grief
- Good Days and Bad Days (How to Cope)
- Body Image and Self-Esteem
- Alcohol and Drug Addiction
- Suicide Prevention
Middle school students have shared that they have thought of suicide; we then were able to get them the proper community resources for clinical treatment. Children as small as five are learning that mental illness is a medical condition; along with senior citizens who are not afraid to approach a lovable duck, and learn new information. Teachers, senior citizens and business men have all talked of their own depression. Once they meet I.C. HOPE® children and adults are in a sharing, non-threatening atmosphere, where they can ask any question they like and get up to date science based information presented in a context they understand.
The Center for Disease Control reports that one in five children and adults have a diagnosable mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. Eighty percent of these children and adults, however, do not receive mental health services, the biggest barrier being the stigma associated with receiving treatment. I.C. Hope “Don’t Duck Mental Health” is a program that helps break down those barriers of stigma, allowing children and their parents to feel comfortable with mental health issues.