Teen Mental Health Collaborative Members Explore Advocacy, Partnerships

The Teen Mental Health Collaborative met at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western PA in Lawrenceville

On February 22, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) convened members of the Teen Mental Health Collaborative for the first in-person meeting of the new year. Attendees had the opportunity to discuss and define the Collaborative's structure and direction for their next phase of collaboration, based on challenges and areas of interest identified during their November meeting.

Discussions centered on the Collaborative members' areas of interest – advocacy, out-of-school time partnerships, and health systems partnerships and training resources – and invited participants' perspectives on key priorities within each area, potential resources and partners, barriers, and upcoming opportunities.

Collaborative members developed plans for Mental Health Awareness Month in May and future advocacy priorities, including identifying government champions and exploring innovative approaches to advocacy that work to engage teens and families. At the local level, the group discussed how community-based organizations can work with schools to offer programming, promote their services, and increase communications between organizations and schools. Additionally, Collaborative members identified opportunities for shared trainings, recognizing that the network's value comes from the shared expertise among the member organizations. A future shared training could focus on developing youth peer support.

In 2020, JHF initiated the Collaborative to facilitate opportunities for youth-serving organizations to share their approaches to providing emotional support, connection, and engagement for teens and to learn from one another. The youth-driven programs used various approaches, including expressive arts, podcasts, and peer support, to create environments in which teens can build resiliency, leadership skills, and new relationships to guide themselves and others through the pandemic. The Collaborative provides organizations with trainings and opportunities to share program ideas and expertise.

The next Collaborative quarterly meeting will be held in May. 

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