High school students learn about mental health stigma at conference

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- One group of Central Valley high school students could be the future team of medical leaders that help the issue of mental health.

Each year the "Growing Health Leaders Youth Conference" has a specific emphasis. This year it's Behavioral Health careers and services.

"There is a stigma often associated with individuals seeking mental health or behavioral health services. So we want to educate the students to try to reduce that stigma," said Mary Renner of the Central Valley Health Network.

This year's keynote speaker is Dr. Nichole Flores.

The Central Valley native who majored in psychology at Fresno State spoke to students about how important it is for rural communities to have access to mental health services.

"We have a lack of psychologist who manage medication, we have a lack of therapist with in certain facilities and so we have to make sure that behavioral health services are scattered in areas are needed," said Dr. Nichole Flores of the Valley Health Team, Inc.

Central Valley Health Network works with doctors like Flores, Fresno State and Fresno City College staff to host the program each year.

In addition to lectures, students interested in being medical doctors or nurses attended workshops such as this one where they learned CPR.

"We also have UCSF Fresno here with their medical stimulation with a mannequin. So it is a real hands on experience for the students," said Renner.

Each year about 400 students from nearly a dozen schools attend the conference on the Fresno State campus.
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