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Mental Health Advocacy: Youth Edition

Youth Advocacy For Mental Health

This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.


My Journey To Mental Health Outreach:

Recently, my eyes have been opened to the lack of mental health awareness and knowledge in my community. Sure we talk about stress, anxiety, depression, and the occasional suicide talk, but there is never any conversation about other mental health issues beyond that. No days of recognition for mental health like those for gender rights and no informational presentations like those for science or politics. I wanted to change that. 

My cousins Alison and Thomas both have autism and both are extremely friendly, bright, and hardworking. I want my generation to learn about these kinds of mental illnesses and how we can destigmatize mental health and teach others about it. I want to advocate for empathy and education surrounding mental health and illness. I have worked with an organization called Albertina Kerr for two years now. Albertina Kerr is a non profit organization based in Portland, Oregon that strives to help children and adults with mental disabilities lead more self-determined lives.

 

The image below describes their goal:

Their goal resonates with me so much and I want to bring this issue to youth who can really make a difference. I have had conversations with the community outreach director and a psychiatrist at Albertina Kerr, who both agreed that my idea needs to be shared. What Albertina does for those with mental disabilities is so astounding and really got me interested in psychology and what I could do to help my community become more educated and empathetic.

(If you find this cause interesting and wish to find out more here is the website link: http://www.albertinakerr.org/AboutUs/Videos)


THE CHALLENGE:

My POV statement started out being targeted to those in the criminal justice system, but I realized that maybe that would be slightly out of my reach at the moment. So I changed my challenge to focus around our generation and educating youth about mental illness. My identified challenge is to encourage conversation about mental health in high school and among teenagers. In order to achieve this, I am going to start small with my own high school but then expand to other high schools in the Portland-Metro area. I would like to form committees at each high school made of teens that could lead information sessions and create events.

I interviewed three students from my high school and asked them these questions:

  • What do you think of when your hear the words mental health?
  • Do you think there is a stigma around having a mental illness? Why?

  • What would you like to have conversations about surrounding mental health?

  • Do you think it is important to talk about mental health more often?

As well as told them one fact from this list and asked for their opinion/reaction:

  • One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue
  • One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression
  • One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression

 

 


My Proposed SOLUTION:

 


WHAT’S NEXT?

What is immediately coming up in the next two weeks is mental health awareness month, where I will hand out the green hearts I’ve made as well as place balloons with #let’stalkaboutit around school!

The next step after is to begin planning the layout for the club next year (seeing that I am only a junior this year) and to show a presentation this year about mental health. I also plan to work with a group of students over the summer to make a proposal for the project I am working on with Albertina Kerr!


SOURCES CITED:

http://www.albertinakerr.org/

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/

 

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