Jennifer Tornetta, (O) 609-569-7010, (C) 609-335-3446, jennifer.tornetta@atlanticare.org 

Joseph Clark, Jr. (O) 609-272-6318, joseph.clarkjr@atlanticare.org

For Immediate Release:  April 30, 2018

AtlantiCare’s school-based programs to observe National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

Students to publicly share Messages of Hope



Who:               AtlantiCare School-based programs to participate in Messages of Hope event


What:             Students will write messages of hope in chalk on the sidewalks outside of the schools


When:             Thursday, May 10
Buena Regional High School – 9 a.m.
Buena Regional Middle School – 9:30 a.m.

                        Atlantic City High School – 9:30 a.m.

                        Oakcrest High School 10:30 a.m.

                        Rain date is: May 11, 2018  


Where:           Buena Regional High School and Buena Regional Middle School

125 and 175 Weymouth Road, Buena, 08310

Media should park in lot in front of school.

Atlantic City High School

1400 N. Albany Ave., Atlantic City, NJ 08401

Media should park in the front of the building.

Oakcrest High School
1824 Dr. Dennis Forman Drive, Mays Landing, NJ 08330

Media should park in the visitor parking spots outside of the main entrance.


Details:           AtlantiCare Behavioral Health (ABH) school-based program will hold its second annual Messages of Hope event to mark the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association’s Awareness Day 2018, May 10. The theme of Awareness Day 2018 is “Partnering for Health and Hope following Trauma.” The event is one of the ways ABH is marking Mental Health Month.

Students who use ABH’s Youth and Teen centers at Buena Regional’s Middle and High schools, and the ABH Teen Center at Oakcrest High School, will write messages of hope on sidewalks outside of the schools.

“We want students to understand that their mental wellbeing is part of their overall wellness,” explained Cathleen Morris, LCSW, AtlantiCare Buena School-Based Youth Program, director. “Students will share messages with each other that there is hope, there is help, and no one is alone in facing trauma. Additionally, families and staff will see these messages as they enter and leave the school.”

ABH Buena HS School Based students Hannah Cintron Ryan Donnelly Sandra Melesio

ABH held its inaugural Messages of Hope event at Buena Regional Middle and High schools in 2017. “We asked students to write what they would say if they were speaking with a peer facing a mental health issue personally or who had a loved one facing a mental health issue,” explained Morris. “The response was so positive that we’ve expanded our Messages of Hope event to our other school-based programs.”

Messages Buena students shared in 2017 included:

  • “Hey little fighter, things will get brighter!”
  • “Everything that you are is enough!”
  • “Your struggle is a part of our struggle.”
  • “Don’t be ashamed of your story. It will inspire others.”

“Our Messages of Hope event, including the discussions and planning leading up to it, reinforces the messages we share with students all year,” said Amber Harris, LCSW, director, ABH Oakcrest High School Teen Center. “We encourage students to recognize signs of trauma, stress and other factors that can contribute to their overall wellbeing.” 

In addition to sharing their messages of hope through chalk, Oakcrest students plan to create a quilt with their messages. It will hang in the lobby of the school during Mental Health Month.

2NDFLOOR, a confidential and anonymous helpline for New Jersey’s youth and young adults, supplied ABH with the chalk. ABH will share many of its photos with 2NDFLOOR to be included on the organization’s online gallery of support messages.

“Together we’re raising awareness how children’s mental health contributes to their overall well-being today and throughout their lives,” said Morris “The sooner a student seeks and gets help, the better his or her mental health and overall well-being is likely to be. “We want students to understand that there should not be a stigma about mental health.”

ABH Buena HS School Based students write messages of hope outside HS wide shot 

About National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day seeks to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and to show that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth. Awareness Day 2018’s national focus is on the importance of integrating behavioral health and primary care for children, youth, and young adults with mental and/or substance use disorders. The 2018 national theme is “Partnering for Help and Hope.” Communities, national collaborating organizations, and federal programs across the country are busy planning local Awareness Day 2018 activities and events.



About AtlantiCare Behavioral Health’s School-based Programs

AtlantiCare Behavioral Health operates school-based programs in Atlantic City High School; Buena Regional High and Middle schools; and Oakcrest High School. A New Jersey Department of Children and Families grant funds these programs. ABH provides core services in schools, including employment, mental health, substance abuse, and learning support services; as well as recreational/social and family-involvement activities. The centers, located in each school, are open to all students Monday through Friday throughout the school year and throughout the summer. Program staff includes a licensed mental health clinician and other support staff at each site.




AtlantiCare, a member of Geisinger Health System, is an integrated system of services designed to help people achieve optimal health. It includes AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, AtlantiCare Health Engagement, the AtlantiCare Foundation, and AtlantiCare Health Services. Its more than 5,400 employees and more than 700 physicians serve the community in nearly 70 locations. A 2009 Malcolm Baldrige Award winner, AtlantiCare was also included in Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2010. ARMC became the 105th hospital in the nation to attain status as a Magnet™ designated hospital in March of 2004 and was redesignated a Magnet™ hospital in 2008 and 2013.


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