Youth continue to experience an unprecedented mental health crisis. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, young adults aged 18-25 years had the highest prevalence of any mental illness (33.7%) compared to adults aged 26-49 years (28.1%) and aged 50 and older (15.0%). This crisis is prompting action across the country to help youth and inform their parents and guardians.
Mental health has been identified as one of the main priorities for Washington’s Benton and Franklin counties, with a population of more than 300,000. To help improve mental health of the county’s English and Spanish-speaking youth, Kadlec Regional Medical Center, with the support of Providence’s Well Being Trust, is providing school districts with the training and curriculum to implement evidence-based programs that improve student mental health.
“One of the most impactful protective factors for youth mental wellbeing is a healthy support system,” says Courtney Armstrong, Community Services Supervisor for Kadlec Community Health. “We are teaching adults how they can be a positive support and encouraging them to incorporate conversations about mental health in their daily interactions with youth. Research shows youth are more likely to notice their peers struggling before adults do, making peer-to-peer training and empowerment crucial. Youth need to know how to have conversations about mental health and what to do when they are concerned about a peer’s wellbeing. The more we (adults and youth) talk about mental health, the more likely we are to create spaces that encourage talking about how we are feeling and seeking help.”
The primary objective is to promote mental health and reduce stigma among youth through education, evidence-based curriculum, and information dissemination. The work will include a bilingual, region-wide messaging campaign, a regional youth summit and training for Spanish-speaking Kadlec Caregivers and community partners. The goal is to encourage conversations about mental health, promote help-seeking behaviors and reduce stigma amongst a population that needs it.
“Over 34% of the population in Benton and Franklin counties are Spanish-speaking, with some communities having over 50% Spanish-speaking,” says Armstrong. “Keeping equity at the forefront, we have prioritized partnering with these communities to create materials and educational opportunities that are culturally relevant.”
Providence’s Well Being Trust is honored to drive important work that advances the mental health and well-being of our youth. Learn more at wellbeingtrust.org/innovationgrants2023