Teen Mental Health Collaborative Gathers for In-Person Celebration

Teen Mental Health Collaborative, facilitators and JHF staff gathered at the Friendship Circle.
The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) convened members of the Teen Mental Health Collaborative for a celebration of their year-long work to promote teen mental health. The November 5th gathering took place at Friendship Circle and provided a long-awaited in-person networking opportunity for the Collaborative members. The Allegheny County community-based organizations forming the Collaborative, with support from emergency grants provided by JHF, have worked to integrate mental wellness programming into their initiatives and collectively address the ongoing teen mental health crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. JHF Program Manager Deborah Murdoch, MPH, Policy Assistant Sarah Pesi, MSPPM, and Practice Transformation Specialist Carol Frazer, LPC, organized and facilitated the event.

The JHF Adolescent Behavioral Health Team asked grantees to reflect on and summarize their work as part of the Collaborative, which was translated to visual posters displayed around the Friendship Circle space. Friendship Circle Director Rivkee Rudolph and Carol Frazer led attendees in a discussion about lessons learned and challenges the organizations experienced over the past 20 months of the pandemic.

Center of Life Family and Community Engagement Coordinator Kiyomi Knox, MSW, then led attendees in an activity from A Window Between Worlds, an organization that works to connect creativity and mental wellness. Through the Garden of New Beginnings activity, participants were invited to plant flower bulbs that symbolize future growth. This activity and the discussion that followed helped attendees visualize how lessons from this past year will influence work for supporting teen mental wellness going forward.

Center of Life Director of Development Patrick Ohrman and Boys & Girls Clubs of Western PA President & CEO Lisa M. Palmieri, PhD, led a design thinking exercise aimed at identifying opportunities for collaborative partners to work together to promote community-based organization and health system collaborations, leverage the network for shared advocacy and training, and plan for joint youth programs.

Going forward, the Collaborative plans to meet quarterly and form smaller workgroups based on specific areas of interest. Some of these include educating and empowering teens as mental health ambassadors, fostering connections with schools and health systems, organizing community-wide events, and connecting with policy makers.

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