Youth Voices in Youth Mental Health Advocacy

by | Aug 10, 2023 | Blog

By Guest Blogger Chloe Cohen

As the need for mental health services for youth becomes increasingly necessary, with 21.8% of children diagnosed with one or more of the common mental health conditions, it’s vital to highlight the voices of those being affected: the children. Recent studies and institutionalized changes surrounding the mental wellbeing of children can be largely attributed to the speaking out of young people and normalization of seeking help.

It can be questioned why diagnosis statistics are at a steady incline. It remains true that it may be virtually impossible to pinpoint the exact causal pathway to one rooted issue as mental disorders are largely multifactorial. Despite this, it is important to listen to the children impacted in order to make advancements in our systems and resources.

Combating the Stigma: How Generation Z Views Mental Health

In a study focused on the generational differences in mental health, Deloitte found that in terms of holistic health priorities, the leading concern for Generation Z is mental health with physical health following in second. This is a drastic difference to the older generations who majorly don’t consider mental illness to be a “health” problem – Mental Health America found that only 38% of adults 65 and older believe depression to be a health issue. The stigma surrounding mental health has been a prominent setback towards advancements in treatment for years. Generation Z, myself included in this demographic, has taken this matter into our own hands in consistently spreading awareness and further, advocating for the need for accessible treatment and resources.

Despite more frequent mental health conversations, the gap between prevalence and treatment is still vast so it’s crucial to listen to the youth’s recommendations on what they believe will combat these struggles.

So, What Should Be Done?

New York State has taken notice of the youth’s call to action and began to dig deeper at what can be done for these issues. Governor Hochul invested a striking $1 billion in youth mental health studies to address the CDC instated mental health crisis among youth. The premise of the study was to collect feedback from children all over NYS with a focus on what types of programs and advice youth could envision de-escalating the crisis.

According to the June 2023 published Youth Mental Health Listening Tour Report, here are some key youth recommendations from the study:

● Involving young people in decision making/ mental health program design

● Hiring diverse health professionals that can relate to a variety of students

● Increase amount of youth led programs

● Educate adults on how to support young people, listen without judgment, and establish clear lines of confidentiality

● Invest in social and recreational activities to promote mental wellness

It’s the duty of the professionals and NYS to hear these results and put them into action. Now, where does The Guidance Center fall into this?

The Guidance Center is Here to Help

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center emphasizes compassion and innovative treatments for children from birth to 24 years old. Our staff across all three locations contains a wide range of diverse individuals with an array of experiences in order to optimize the relatability and relationships between therapist and client, as is an important factor in mental health care according to the report. Additionally, The Guidance Center provides a number of programs and services to support the youth in the way that they need to be supported. Each client is comprehensively evaluated, tailored to an individual treatment plan that may include any combination of individual, family, and group therapy, and if needed, medication management.

As an intern in The Guidance Center, I have had the privilege of learning about our programs and closely working with the staff that make it all happen. I can say with confidence that The Guidance Center not only provides services that accommodate these youth recommendations, but the staff as a whole is truly dedicated to ensuring the mental wellbeing of our youth. Outside of therapy, The Guidance Center offers programs such as the Wilderness Respite Program that hosts children from any mental health facility to come together and participate in adventurous activities as a gateway to mastery of social skills and youth empowerment. The Guidance Center also offers programs such as the LGBTQ+ & Latina Girls Project that bring together clients who may be in need of extra support from those who have similar experiences.

Our staff is specially trained for working with children and their families with no limits or restrictions to provide our clients with the care they need. A major setback to children receiving services is financial limitations. At The Guidance Center, we are dedicated to reaching everybody who needs us. As said by Executive Director/CEO, Kathy Rivera, “We turn no one away for any inability to pay… We are committed to equity in mental health regardless of what your ZIP code is, what your bank account looks like. Everyone deserves to have access to care.” The Guidance Center is a place where youth heal and thrive accessibly and affordably as we stay up to date with changing times and individually molded treatment plans.

If you or your child is in need of support, know that we are here to help! Call us at (516) 626-1971 to learn more about our services or make an appointment today.

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