Columbia Links teen journalists unveil findings on teens and mental illness


Columbia Links’ annual town hall meeting on Thursday, Nov. 5 focuses on teens and mental illness. The forum, “Undiagnosed and Untreated: Teens and Mental Illness,” will be held from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m at Columbia College’s Music Center Hall, 1014 S. Michigan Ave. The event is free and open to the public. 

In its Children’s Mental Health Report, the Child Mind Institute reported that of the 74.5 million children in the United States, 17.1 million have or have had a psychiatric disorder—more than the number of children diagnosed with cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.

At the town hall, the student journalists will present a comprehensive series of stories concerning psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents. Some of these include:

  • Students selling ADHD medicines 
  • The role of the African-American church in fighting mental illness
  • Theatrical productions that raise the curtain on mental illness
  • How the Chicago public schools treat students who are mentally ill 
  • Police training to identify mental illness shortchanged
  • Lead ingestion affects young minds  

In addition, Kelvin Roston Jr., who wrote and starred in the Congo Square Theatre-produced play “Twisted Melodies,” which is about singer and songwriter Donny Hathaway’s losing battle with mental illness, will perform a scene from his one-man play. 

Natalie Moore, reporter for WBEZ Radio’s South Side bureau, will moderate the discussion between the student journalists and industry professionals about mental illness among juveniles.


Five Columbia Links teen reporters.

Sgt. DionTrotter, director of Cook County Sheriff’s Child Protection Response Unit, is charged with rescuing runaways throughout Cook County. Mental illness is often at the heart of what puts these youths in these types of dangerous situations.

Father Christopher Griffin, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, profiled in one of the stories (“Take it to the Lord”), redirects his parishioners to professional mental healthcare. He now is pursuing a degree in this area, the need is so great.

Miwa Yasui,  University of Chicago professor, is author of the paper, “Minority Youth: Needs for Mental Health Services Grow with Population.” (There were 48 million minority children in 2014, a number that will increase to 64.4 million by 2060.)

Abel Lumas, a high school dropout diagnosed as a teen with schizophrenia, now at 38 is working on his graduate degree in social work with a concentration in mental health.  

A Q&A will follow. 

To RSVP, click here.


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