Teen Mental Health Collaborative Gathers for Year-End Quarterly Meeting

Ruth Fox, CEO of Allegheny Family Network (AFN), welcomes Teen Mental Health Collaborative members to AFN’s new trainings space and shares more information about their programs.

The Teen Mental Health Collaborative gathered on December 11th at Allegheny Family Network for the final quarterly meeting of the year. Thirty-five participants representing 18 youth-serving organizations, nonprofits offering mental health advocacy and support, and school-based programs shared updates about their programs, challenges, and lessons learned. The collaborative offers a space for networking, peer-to-peer learning, shared advocacy, and access to training and skills development resources related to mental health.

Ruth Fox, CEO of Allegheny Family Network, shared the organization's programs and resources for supporting families, including Family Support Partners (FSPs) who offer advocacy and support to families navigating the mental health system. A new partnership between AFN and Western Behavioral Health will mobilize Family Peer Support services within Psychiatric Emergency Services at Western Psychiatric Hospital and as part of mobile crisis teams at resolve. AFN also supports the Highlands Partnership Network in the operation of The Teen Spot, which offers a safe, supportive after school space for youth in Natrona Heights.

Dana Heisel from the University of Pittsburgh Maximizing Adolescent Potential Program, Kara Petrosky from the Boys and Girls Club of Western PA, and Misty Woody from Highlands Partnership Network Teen Spot shared resources and lessons learned for preventing and responding to community violence. Afterschool is a critical time for supporting teens and safe spaces in these organizations proactively address concerns around violence by offering peer-to-peer mediation and support for youth. Speakers noted the importance of community violence interrupters and leveraging the trusted relationships of adults who know the community to help mediate conflicts. In a recent ranking survey, youth identified creation of a job fair to connect teens to minority business owners, safe after school spaces, programs for skill development in conflict mediation and overall coping strategies, and grief rehabilitation programs as priority responses to addressing community violence for youth.

The collaborative also discussed 2024 youth advocacy opportunities through the PA Youth Advocacy Network, learned about resources available through Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, and participated in an interactive art therapy-based activity around setting intentions. The group will meet again in March 2024. 

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