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District starts mental health dialogue

Sunday - 10/13/2013, 8:10am  ET

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Mayor Vincent Gray's city-wide discussion on mental health was held at the DC Convention Center. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

WASHINGTON - On Saturday morning, the D.C. community answered President Obama's call for a dialogue on the issue of mental health - particularly in light of the events at the Washington Navy Yard and other recent deadly shootings that have rocked the nation.

Mayor Vincent Gray's city-wide discussion on mental health was held at the D.C. Convention Center. The purpose was to bring mental health issues out of the shadows.

"This is the first time we've had anything like this in the District of Columbia," Gray said.

Hundreds turned out for the day of dialogue, including people affected by mental illness, service providers, law enforcement, city residents and youth representatives.

"It's wonderful to see so many people who've come out to be a part of this," Gray said.

The mayor said the main objective of the day was to leave with an outline of a plan on how to go forward. He asks, "How do we put services together? How do we do more to put services in our schools?"

Residents also learned about the importance of recognizing mental health issues in kids and getting them help early on. Delays in getting treatment for the young can lead to severe problems, such as dropping out of school or even suicide.

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