Young people today are experiencing a mental health crisis unlike anything we’ve seen before. Nearly one in five youth in Colorado reported poor mental health in 2021 — double the rate seen in 2017. Social media, the pandemic, and climate change were just some of the external pressures students and parents cited during A Community Conversation: Supporting the Mental Health of Our Youth, a panel discussion that gathered more than 300 people at Manhattan Middle School on April 12, 2023.
Panelists included clinicians, community health professionals, educators, and people with lived experiences. All agreed that the conversation starter was an important step toward equipping the community with information that can bridge the generational divides and produce healthy dialog that will lead to solutions.
Impact on Education hosted the event in collaboration with UnitedHealthcare, Centura Health, Comcast, The Colorado Health Foundation, and Boulder Valley School District.
“Impact on Education is committed to providing an elevated level of mental health support for all BVSD students. Beyond what we can provide during the school day, engaging families and the community is a crucial part of supporting student mental health and well-being.”– Allison Billings, Executive Director at Impact on Education
Why we need to talk about mental health
According to the CDC, it is estimated that one in five children ages 3-17 experience a mental disorder each year, the most common of which are ADHD, anxiety, behavioral problems, and depression. The CDC reports that in 2021, 42 percent of high school students reported feeling so sad or hopeless regularly, for at least a two-week period, that they stopped doing their normal daily activities. Furthermore, a CDC study states that compared with pre-pandemic levels, teenagers are more likely to experience persistent feelings of distress or malaise that interfere in their lives. They are more likely to think about suicide and more likely to attempt it.
How the community can support our youth
The event presented the idea that, together, the community can elevate the mental health and well-being of our youth. Panelists discussed the current risks facing our youth; techniques for communicating with children about their mental health needs; and school, community, and health care resources available to parents. Information about local and state trends, as well as the risks, influencing factors, and available supports were shared with the audience, primarily parents of students in BVSD.
“Fostering resilient children requires engagement with their families, friends, mentors, and the community. At UnitedHealthcare, we felt privileged to be an organizing sponsor of this important event with our partners at Impact on Education and the Boulder Valley School District.”– Marc Neely, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Colorado & Wyoming
Discussions also included clinical expertise on trends; resources available to parents; and how to start and sustain mental health conversations with kids.
To access resources distributed at the event click here. For those who were unable to attend the event, Comcast is producing a television special which will be available for viewing online soon.
BEFORE YOU GO …
Together we can elevate the mental health of our youth. Impact on Education is committed to the mental health of BVSD students. Your gift helps provide Wellness Centers and Mental Health Advocates in schools, and resources and training to support the well-being of staff, students and their families.