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Teens Bring About The First Teen Mental Health Awareness Day

Posted by Sarah Pesi on May 25, 2021

Sunday was a win for teens, teen mental health advocates, mental health organizations, and the community-at-large.

Teens who are a part of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation’s PA Youth Advocacy Network wrote a proclamation that recognized May 23, 2021, as Teen Mental Health Awareness Day in the city and in the commonwealth.  The proclamation, written for teens and by teens, was a culmination of work by multiple organizations and participating youth to make the day a reality and was one of the first such proclamations by a state government in the United States.

Reports and studies have indicated that mental health issues among young adults have risen significantly over the last decades. During the Covid-19 pandemic, with the unique difficulties it brought about ranging from anxiety about the illness itself, loss of loved ones, and months of social isolation, the issue of teen mental health has become even more concerning.

In recognizing the issue and by empowering the teens themselves, the May 23rd proclamation was a big step in increasing awareness and furthering the work of developing a wide range of viable options for those in need. Teens who are a part of the Jewish’s Healthcare Foundation’s PA Youth Advocacy Network wrote the proclamation, highlighting things that they found most prevalent around mental health, including issues of equity, current events, importance of school environment, stigma, and that teen voices should be heard in decisions that impact them.  The City Council adopted the proclamation on May 17 with teens speaking at the council meeting to share their thoughts and ideas around teen mental health.

In recognition of Teen Mental Health Awareness Day, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation hosted a press conference and private reception honoring teen mental health advocates and community organizations that work to address teen mental health and amplify the voices of teens. The day’s events took place at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and brought together organizations participating in the Foundation’s PA Youth Advocacy Network and Teen Mental Health Collaborative to address issues of adolescent behavioral health and provide a platform where multiple organizations could come together to advocate for systemic changes that will improve the adolescent behavioral health system. Lt. Governor Fetterman presented the state proclamation, and Councilperson Strassburger presented the city proclamation.

The private reception featured various community organizations and resources, including: UPMC SOVA ProjectUpStreet, Friendship CirclePA Youth Advocacy NetworkStand Together, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention of Western PA. We also had a video from local leaders, Beaver County Youth Ambassadors Attending (Yard Sign Campaign Video), and featured music from Stand Together mental health playlist.

If your teen is interested in getting involved in teen mental health advocacy, please email Sarah Pesi, Teen Engagement & Outreach Coordinator at the JCC & Policy Assistant at JHF, at [email protected] or [email protected]

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