May 23 Declared Teen Mental Health Awareness Day in Pennsylvania and City of Pittsburgh
Lt. Governor Fetterman and City of Pittsburgh Councilperson Strassburger presented proclamations to youth mental health advocates
PITTSBURGH, PA (May 24, 2021) – The City of Pittsburgh and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania officially declared May 23, 2021 Teen Mental Health Awareness Day, via a proclamation written by a team of high school students from the PA Youth Advocacy Network, the teen mental health advocacy program of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation. Lt. Governor John Fetterman and City of Pittsburgh Councilperson Erika Strassburger presented the youth with the proclamations during an in-person celebration at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh on May 23.
Lt. Governor Fetterman said, "It is such an important topic…it's not something we talked about when I was a teenager…. thank you for bringing attention to this and for reminding us all that this is a critical area."
Governor Tom Wolf and the Pittsburgh City Council officially declared May 23, 2021 Teen Mental Health Awareness Day in the City of Pittsburgh and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, approving a proclamation written by a team of students from the PA Youth Advocacy Network. This proclamation comes at a crucial time, given that almost half of parents surveyed said their teen experienced a new or worsening mental health condition since the start of the pandemic, reports the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at Michigan Medicine. Additionally, we know that prior to the pandemic, 22.9% of children in the U.S. had a psychiatric disorder, with half of all psychiatric illnesses occurring before the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 24.
Youth advocate and West Allegheny High School student Connor Dalgaard said, "It's crucial to begin this change at the local level…Creating a Teen Mental Health Day in Pittsburgh and in the state of Pennsylvania provides the building block needed to solve the mental health crisis at its roots, by giving youth the ability to build on the headway of adults today."
The participating students who wrote the proclamation are representatives of West Allegheny High School, Fox Chapel High School, Taylor Allderdice High School, and a recent alumna of Winchester Thurston/current Barnard College student.
"Teens are not just the leaders of tomorrow; they are the leaders of today… I'm so proud of the work that the youth are doing today," said Councilperson Strassburger.
About the PA Youth Advocacy Network
Initiated on Election Day in November 2018, the PA Youth Advocacy Network seeks to provide skills building and advocacy opportunities for teens who have an interest in mental health. The PA Youth Advocacy Network mobilizes the youth voice, bringing together youth and youth organizations to share resources, collaborate on a shared policy agenda, and effectively advocate for change. Representatives from 26 different high schools and over ten community partners have been involved in the Network, which the Jewish Healthcare Foundation manages. For more information, visit payouthadvocacy.org.
About the Jewish Healthcare Foundation
The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) and its three operating arms — the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI), Health Careers Futures (HCF), and the Women's Health Activist Movement Global (WHAMglobal) — offer a unique brand of activist philanthropy to advance healthcare innovation, advocacy, collaboration, and education in the interest of better population health. JHF is also committed to teen mental health work through grants awarded in fall 2020 to 14 local organizations to support teen mental health programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, totaling nearly $400,000. JHF convenes a Teen Mental Health Collaborative of these grantees to share information and expertise and forge new collaborations from a grassroots perspective. For more information, visit jhf.org.
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