Over the past year, mental health has worsened due to the pandemic and various associated stressors, especially in the youth population. According to one 2021 Report on the State of Mental Health in America, 11- to 17-year-olds have been more likely than any other age group to experience symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety and depression. The report also indicates that 60% of young people with depression do not receive any mental health treatment, even in states with greater access.
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In Arizona, more than more than 40% of young people reported feeling sad or desperate for two or more weeks in a row, enough for them to stop doing some of their usual activities. In addition, nearly 16% of Arizona youth, above the national average of 13.8%, have had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
Young people who experience mental health problems are at risk of using substances if they do not have healthy skills to deal with. This is where school-based and community-based prevention programs can help. Youth4Youth, an Arizona-based nonprofit organization, aims to help students develop leadership skills by giving them the opportunity to create proactive solutions to their school and community problems. Programming helps students learn the skills they need to better manage the stressors in their lives, helping them gain endurance.
The ability to deal with problems effectively is not only critical to mental health, but can also help prevent the onset of substance use. Students participating in Youth4Youth programming learn about the importance of a positive attitude, making decisions about a healthy lifestyle, and more. They build lifelong decision-making skills and become role models and mentors for younger students.
Youth4Youth recently received a grant of more than $ 80,000 from Arizona’s Blue Cross Blue Shield to implement prevention programs at the school and establish a coalition of drug-free communities. The funds, which are part of our Mobilize AZ initiative, will support and improve outreach to nonprofit students, which is designed to help prevent substance abuse, offer opioid response programs, and create campuses. schoolchildren informed of the trauma.
Supporting the mental health needs of Arizona youth can help create lasting change in our community. If you or someone you know can benefit from the programming offered by Youth4Youth, visit youth4youth.org.
Jessica Yanow is a senior health and community advancement manager at Arizona’s Blue Cross Blue Shield.