Tuesday, May 3, 2022

What You Need to Know this Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and recent studies show that girls are disproportionally affected by the increasing mental health crisis in America.

After almost two years of dealing with the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic—along with mounting pressures at school, home, and socially—there is so much going on in the world that can take a toll on your girl's mental wellness. In fact, this past October, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and the Children's Hospital Association declared a national emergency in children's mental health.

Here are some things you should know about the youth mental health crisis right now:
  1. The Surgeon General issued a General Advisory report, “Protecting Youth Mental Health (2021),” where they found that youth symptoms of depression and anxiety have doubled during the pandemic.
  2. According to the CDC, ER visits for suspected suicide attempts increased more than 50% among girls ages 12–17 in early 2021 compared to 2019.
  3. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) data shows nearly 90% of parents are now prioritizing their child's mental health over academic achievement. Yet teachers are tapped and therapists have patient waitlists up to a year long.
  4. Research shows that one in six youth/adolescents will experience a mental health condition at any given time (NAMI, JAMA Pediatrics).
While these numbers are alarming, there is some good news: there is plenty we can do. From intentionally focusing and prioritizing your girl's mental wellness to reaching out to experts for help, we have the tools to get ahead of this ongoing crisis. Keep in mind that regardless of girls' developmental stages, it is important to include experiences where they can participate in activities, find a sense of social support, and build strong relationships.

As Girl Scouts, we take action on matters we believe in and understand the importance of mental wellness. That is why we created the Mental Wellness and Inclusion Portal. From programs designed for all grade levels to training for adults, you and your girl can participate in various activities, receive support from peers, and build social-emotional skills—all in a physically and psychologically safe environment.

Here are just a few things you will find:

Available now:
  • Resilient. Ready. Strong.—A program where girls of all ages can earn a patch by completing a variety of activities that cover ten skills that may lift their mood, calm them down when they’re stressed, and help them face challenges.
  • Modernized Daisy petals—Say hello to our updated Daisy petal badges! Made specifically for girls in kindergarten and first grade, updated for the first time in over a decade. These badges cover important topics like inclusion, sisterhood, and the development of age-appropriate social-emotional skills.
  • Paint Your World Purple with Kristen Bell and Girl Scouts—A unique virtual event providing an opportunity to learn about the importance of being inquisitive, having a great work ethic, being your true self, and developing connections with others. Kristen Bell will take new and returning Girl Scouts alike on an adventure through the five steps to becoming a "purple person," chat about what it means to be a Girl Scout, and engage in fun activities to show the importance of being both.
  • Delivering Inclusive Program training—Girl Scout troop leaders will receive new training with an intentional focus on best practices for creating inclusive environments. The updated content—developed in partnership with DEIA experts and mapped to education standards—elevates learnings around gender, race, disability inclusion, cultural appropriation, and more.
Coming in Summer 2022 and Summer 2023:

GSUSA's new partnerships with expert organizations in mental wellness will better prepare girls and adults across the country to deal with the mental health crisis personally, as mentors, and as peers. "The National Council applauds GSUSA for recognizing that young girls are under a tremendous amount of pressure right now. Rates of depression, anxiety, trauma, and loneliness are soaring among young people,” National Council for Mental Wellbeing President and CEO Chuck Ingoglia said. “Providing evidence-based early intervention and prevention training like MHFA provide trusted adults with the resources to help young people cope with the traumatic stressors caused by the pandemic.”

All great opportunities and resources that develop foundational knowledge and skills to support mental wellness for both girls and adults.

Check out more programs and resources here.

Developed in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

Founded in 1969, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing is a membership organization that drives policy and social change on behalf of nearly 3,200 mental health and substance use treatment organizations and the more than 10 million children, adults, and families they serve. We advocate for policies to ensure equitable access to high-quality services. We build the capacity of mental health and substance use treatment organizations. And we promote greater understanding of mental wellbeing as a core component of comprehensive health and health care. Through our Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program, we have trained more than 2.6 million people in the U.S. to identify, understand, and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.

The David and Lura Lovell Foundation is a family foundation established in 1994 that funds high-impact initiatives nationwide in four focus areas: mental health, integrative health and wellness, youth access to the arts, and gender parity.