Tarrant County

Hope Squads Tackle Childhood Depression and Suicide

A new partnership in Tarrant County is aimed to address food insecurities, which can be linked to depression and anxiety in children

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Being unsure of where you'll get your next meal can have a significant impact on your mental wellbeing.

That's especially true in children.

Experts say food insecurities are a major factor in the rate of childhood depression, anxiety, even suicidal thoughts.

A new partnership in Tarrant County is aimed to address that very issue.

The Tarrant Area Food Bank and The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation have announced the formation of a new, national education module through the Hope Squad program that addresses the relationship between food insecurity and mental health.

Through its Hope Squad program, a school-based peer support group, The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation’s mission is to eradicate suicide by funding depression research, creating awareness through education, erasing the stigma, and providing hope to those who are struggling in silence.

By partnering with the Tarrant Area Food Bank, the organizations look to bridge the gap of the effects hunger has on children and their well-being.

One study found children from food-insecure households had rates of depressive symptoms almost 30 percent higher than other children.

"We know that food insecurity leads to higher rates of suicide depression and anxiety in our children," said program director of Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation Kristi Wily.

"Making sure we have healthy food is so important to mental health and physical health," said Wiley.

The partnership held its first wellness event Wednesday at Eastern Hills High School, with collaboration by Fort Worth ISD's United Voices for Change.

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