Connecticut Youth Conversations and Action on Mental Health

Topics: 

Format: 

Single, 2-hour event

Number of Participants: 

800

With what other organizations in your community did you partner when convening this conversation, if any?: 

East Hartford High School
The Connecticut Forum
Everyday Democracy

What were the most important things you learned during the process of organizing the dialogue?: 

Working with East Hartford High School was great because there was a civics teacher who believed in youth civic engagement. The school also has held community service day events for the past few years, and saw the opportunity to have its 2015 event focus on youth and mental health. So it is important to have a teacher who has experience engaging students at the school and also has sponsored student-community events in the past.

Working with CT Forum Youth Leadership Network was great because they already engage over 25 high schools in the area on different topics of interest to youth, including bullying, date-rape, substance abuse, etc. They had also had mental health conversations in most of the schools in the past.

What did you identify as the key issues affecting mental health in your community and especially the mental health of your community‚Äôs young people?: 

Through the dialogues, youth identified the following issues and challenges:

1. Stigma and stereotypes associated with talking about mental health

2. Lack of awareness about mental health and its symptoms

3. Lack of awareness about how mental health affects us all

4. Need for more support at the schools, especially for Latino students in schools where there are very few or no Latino teachers

 

 

What did you identify as the current strategies being used to address mental health challenges in your community? What are the challenges facing those strategies? : 

East Hartford HS has a group of students (Connection) who engage others on school issues--bullying, substance abuse, etc. The Connection students will be working with the civics teacher to plan youth mental health awareness events each year.

The CT Forum Youth Leadership Network has a student leadership council (Leadership Forum) that includes representatives from each of the 25+ high schools in Greater Hartford. It has engaged youth in these dialogues and conversations on mental health to remove stereotypes and dispel myths.

What actions did you identify that your community can pursue to improve mental health, especially among young people?: 

1. Having a group of youth who are educated/informed about mental health and who can be a support group (especially among Latino students)

2. Working with teachers to sponsor more school-based events on mental health

 

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your conversation?: 

Through this project as many as 18 of the youth at East Hartford HS  were trained as facilitators for conversations. Some of them will continue to play that role in future events around mental health. A YouTube video documents this event at East Hartford HS. For see the video go to:

As many as 35 of the Youth Forum Leadership Network leaders were trained as facilitators and some (i.e. East Granby High School) are planning future TTA events. A YouTube video documents the Text, Talk, Act conversations at the CT Youth Forum in 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLIs5w1Q63g