On Our Sleeves Movement Launches Nationally to Transform Childhood Mental Health

Big Lots Behavioral Health Scholarship Fund Announced

May 9, 2019
Niki Shafer, Julia's Mom, Julia Paxton and Jeremy Ball

Julia Paxton, 19, was named as the first recipient of The Big Lots Behavioral Health Scholarship on “Today” to pursue a career in behavioral health thanks to a generous donation from the Big Lots Foundation. Pictured from left to right: Niki Shafer (Nationwide Children’s Hospital), Debbie Paxton (Julia’s mom), Julia Paxton (scholarship recipient), and Jeremy Ball (Big Lots Foundation).

COLUMBUS, Ohio – On Our Sleeves, a movement dedicated to ending the stigma around childhood mental health, launched nationally today on May 9, National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. On Our Sleeves was created with the goal of raising awareness about the one in five children living across America with mental illness and to ending the stigma often associated with these conditions.

On Our Sleeves was developed by Nationwide Children’s Hospital and introduced on World Mental Health Awareness Day in October 2018. The movement’s awareness campaign made its national debut May 9 on NBC’s “Today” show with extensive plans for national promotion and visibility throughout the month of May. Thousands have already expressed interest in the movement with the goal of broadening that base of interest and support across the country.

On “Today,” Jenna Bush Hager and Willie Geist profiled the story of Julia Paxton, 19, of Howard, Ohio. Paxton, a former behavioral health patient at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is now an active advocate for the On Our Sleeves movement. She was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when she was 17-years-old and began treatment at Nationwide Children’s. She is now thriving as a sophomore at The Ohio State University and is committed to using the degree she is pursing in social work to support others living with mental health diagnoses.

Through a generous donation from the Big Lots Foundation, “Today” surprised Julia on-air as the first recipient of The Big Lots Behavioral Health Scholarship. The $10,000 scholarship will is awarded to a student committed to a career in behavioral health. The annual scholarship will be funded through an endowment from Big Lots Foundation to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“Big Lots is proud to support the next generation of mental health providers with our endowed scholarship fund for students committed to the field of behavioral health. There is a national shortage of health care providers in this area and it is crucial that we have trained professionals to help meet the growing need,” said Bruce Thorn, CEO of Big Lots. “Julia’s advocacy should inspire us all to work together to end the stigma around childhood mental health.”

Big Lots first made a transformational commitment to childhood mental health in 2016 with a $50 million dollar gift announcement to support the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion and Big Lots Behavioral Health Services at Nationwide Children’s. The Pavilion will be the largest behavioral health treatment and research center dedicated to children and adolescents on a pediatric medical campus in the U.S. and will open in March 2020.

One in five people live with a mental illness, and 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses start by age 14.* The On Our Sleeves movement addresses these staggering statistics by providing educational resources, advocacy tools and philanthropic opportunities at OnOurSleeves.org.

“Because kids don’t wear their thoughts on their sleeves, we don’t know what they might be going through, but we can all be a voice for childhood mental health,” said David Axelson, MD, chief of the Department of Psychiatry and Big Lots Behavioral Health Services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Together we can raise awareness and end the stigma often associated with mental illness in children and adolescents.”

OnOurSleeves.org has a library of educational content and resources to help families start a conversation about childhood mental health, as well as ways corporations and communities can make a difference.

If you or your child need immediate help due to having suicidal thoughts, go to your local emergency room immediately, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

-30-

*Source: National Comorbidity Survey Replication-Adolescent Supplement, 2010.
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/ncsr-study/nimh-funded-national-comorbidity-survey-replication-ncs-r-study-mental-illness-exacts-heavy-toll-beginning-in-youth.shtml

About Nationwide Children's Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-20 list of “Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric health care systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of more than 13,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.5 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. More information is available at NationwideChildrens.org.