Los Angeles — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed May 23 as "Let's Erase the Stigma Youth Day" throughout Los Angeles County to recognize youth leadership in mental health and raise interest from young people, a demographic historically uninvolved in mental health advocacy. The children's charity Let's Erase the Stigma Educational Foundation (LETS), in partnership with the Department of Mental Health, was presented a scroll in recognition of Let's Erase the Stigma Youth Day at the county's Regular Meeting of the Board of Supervisors on May 17, as arranged by Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles County Supervisor, Third District. The proclamation coincides with Let's Erase the Stigma First Annual Youth Summit on May 23, 2011 at the California Endowment, where 250 high school students from Los Angeles County schools and Transition Age Youth programs will receive scholarships to spend the day talking openly about mental illness and stigma. This year's Summit will mark the beginning of Let's Erase the Stigma Youth Day, an annual cultural event that invites young people to plan clear ideas of how they can create lasting change in the perception of mental illness through social inclusion, prevention, early education, and peer-to-peer dialogue. Diverse youth from LETS Clubs in Los Angeles schools have formed a Youth Planning Committee to choose interactive workshops, special guest speakers, entertainment, educational materials, and activities relevant and exciting to today's high school students.
LETS will grant scholarships for Los Angeles students, including underprivileged and minority populations, to attend the Summit with no cost to these participants. This event will set a precedence for future Let's Erase the Stigma Youth Days of national scope. Let's Erase the Stigma Youth Day has received the support of Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, Chair and Professor of the Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley. A world-renowned author and researcher on childhood behavior disorders, Dr. Hinshaw will present his work on the stigma of mental illness at the Summit.
Dr. Marvin J. Southard, DSW, Director, Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles County, presented the First Annual Let's Erase the Stigma Social Inclusion Awards. Attending schools had the opportunity to begin their own LETS Clubs where students can continue to address the issues raised by the Summit.
"I give my wholehearted thanks to Supervisor Yaroslavsky and the Department of Mental Health for setting aside this day to support kids as they continue to talk about stigma," says Philippe Fontilea, LETS Founder and Chair. "Let's let kids come up with solutions to stigma, bullying, and how to ask for help—because they are the ones walking the halls of their schools each day, erasing the stigma before it ever begins."
Partners and organizations can support Let's Erase the Stigma Youth Day each year by sponsoring a table, providing educational materials, or applying for scholarships of student attendance at the LETS website. For more information, contact LETS at (888) 594-5387 or visit
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