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Members of the National Student Advisory Council of Work2BeWell meet regularly to discuss how they can make teens’ mental health a priority.
The council created a website of state-specific mental health resources, which shares hotlines and providers that are close to home.
The resources listed include support for several underserved populations, including BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ teens.
If a young person is having a mental health crisis, they need help right away — and from someone close enough to give them the support they need. Teens now have a tool they can use to find local hotlines and providers’ phone numbers with just a mouse click, thanks to the National Student Advisory Council (NSAC) of Work2BeWell (W2BW).
W2BW is a mental health and wellness program focused on providing resources and education to teens, parents and educators. The NSAC is a group of teens that meets regularly to discuss how it can make mental health issues a top priority in schools and communities.
After determining their peers needed local support, the council created the State-by-State Mental Health Resource, which allows teens in each state to easily identify services close to home. The site also identifies national mental health resources, each of which has been clinically vetted by Robin Henderson, Psy.D., chief executive for behavioral health, Providence Oregon, and chief clinical officer, Work2BeWell.
The importance of local care
Two key leaders in this project were council members Shreeya Gogia and Kianna Victor. Both teens said the pandemic had a major impact on their peers’ and communities’ mental health, and they hope this resource will fill the gap for teens suffering from mental illness across the country.
“I looked at it as something that students can easily access and use as the first step toward them taking the initiative to improve their well-being,” Victor says. “I think there’s such an ongoing stigma of mental health, and it kind of blocks people from seeing that they can easily access mental health resources, and they have several options, from school-based curriculum content to accessing care in a clinical setting like therapy.”
The council wanted to emphasize the importance of mental health care access at the community level.
“I think local mental health organizations have a better understanding of what their communities and residents need,” Gogia says. “National resources are great, but having help close to home can lead to personalized support that teens might not receive from a national organization, especially when local resources have a better understanding of a school or community’s landscape.”
A diverse listing of resources
Equity also played a major role in resource development. The resources listed include mental health help for several underserved populations, including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities and LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning) teens.
“One of my goals with the resource was that it would target underserved communities and help to remove barriers for those seeking mental health support,” Victor says. “That wasn’t there before, especially in my community.”
With many organizations looking to address youth mental health, it can be confusing and overwhelming to parse through all the available resources. Part of the council’s hope is that it can cut through the noise and help teens get the support they need.
“I think what’s good about this list is that the resources we included are free,” Gogia says. “We spent a lot of time researching hundreds of resources because we realize that for someone to try to do this research independently can be confusing and in some cases you kind of feel like giving up midway through because you can’t find what you need. Having this clinically vetted, consolidated list helps teens easily access support without facing barriers, such as cost or stigma.”
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