WALL TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so Friday a group of children in Monmouth County gathered on a farm to spend a day away from electronics and reconnect with nature.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, it was a day to celebrate being a kid, run around, get your hands dirty and smile your cares away.
“I love animals, and there’s a lot of horses, and it’s just great to see the horses,” one girl said.
“I just love baby goats,” said another.
“It relieves stress immediately, it just takes your mind off of everything that’s going on. And when you see the animals, it just brings such peace to you,” Wall High School freshman Renee Grunwald said.
Allaire Community Farm hosted Children’s Mental Health Day, a day for all kids to slow down and get back in touch with nature.
“It’s so important, especially, in light of what seems to be happening, with the bullying and suicides and all, that we really have to focus on mental health. And I think it starts when they’re young,” said a mother.
Chad Majczan, with Monmouth Cares, says it’s a vital conversation to have with your child, but not everyone is.
“You look at the impact of social media, you know, knowledge is at our fingertips nowadays, and kids are constantly getting bombarded with what’s going on in the world,” he said.
He said 20 percent of kids ages 13-18 are going to have a serious mental condition. But the average delay between symptom onset and treatment is eight to 10 years. That’s why information and action are key.
Owner Joann Burney said the farm is a natural support system.
“Kids come, they’re stressed, they’re depressed, they’re anxious, and they just relax here,” she said.
Best of all, the animals don’t judge.
“I love coming to farm, because it’s very therapeutic to spend time away from our phones and the internet and just spend time with the animals,” one girl said.
“I love the horses,” a boy added.
“They’re just so friendly and they know you, so every time you come back they treat you the same. So they don’t judge you by your personality, but who you really are to them,” said another.
Experts say if you see a major change in your child’s behavior, start the conversation and get outside.
Allaire Community Farm is open to the public. It hosts several special needs events and employs people with special needs.