At Girls Inc., we know that mental health plays a critical role in how girls see themselves, how they connect with others, and how they envision their futures. That’s why Girls Inc. and the Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation are teaming up once again this year to support the mental wellbeing of Girls Inc. girls and staff across our network.
Since 2020, Girls Inc. has proudly partnered with the Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation to address girls’ most immediate needs in the midst of a worsening youth mental health crisis. The Foundation’s support has enabled the work of Girls Inc.’s Mind+Body initiative that supports the mental and physical health of girls through movement, positive body image, nutrition, and stress management.
This World Mental Health Day, we are proud to highlight some of the amazing work that affiliates throughout the Girls Inc. network have achieved this year, thanks in part to the generous support of the Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation:
Innovative Approaches to Youth Mental Health
Understanding the importance of supporting girls’ mental health, Girls Inc. of Shelbyville & Shelby County in Central Indiana has a dedicated Mental Health Advocate to assist girls in their wellness journeys. The Mental Health Advocate is a constant and trustworthy support who plays a key role in ensuring the girls have a safe place to express themselves and be heard.
Support from the Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation enabled the Mental Health Advocate to utilize the mental health program entitled “Express It!” that addressed critical youth mental health topics such as bullying, self-identity, suicide prevention, and overall mental wellbeing through art, as well as develop new, innovative self-care tools. Other tools that were implemented into this programming were positive self-talk envelopes, chalk emojis to help girls identify their feelings, anonymous worry boxes, a coping skills list, and activity sessions where girls created their own fidget toys. Girls also had the opportunity to engage in one-on-one and group therapeutic discussions.
Intensified Support for Girls
Program facilitators at Girls Inc. of Limestone in Ontario, Canada, partnered with parents to create customizable mental health care packages with resources to address depression, anxiety, low self-worth, and emotional dysregulation.
Some of the curated items included self-love and self-reflection workbooks, mindfulness tools, weighted blankets, anger-management workbooks, and social skills activities. Girls also received enrichment materials that encouraged them to pursue their specific interests as a means to achieve and maintain higher levels of self-confidence, self-worth, and mental wellness—for example, arts and crafts supplies, sports equipment, and gift cards for access to camps and recreational facilities.
Strengthening Frontline Staff
Thanks to support from the Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation, this past year Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta was pleased to expand their staff mental health trainings and self-care resources to include mental health first aid (MHFA), suicide prevention, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), art therapy, and support for trans youth.
Alongside the Canadian Mental Health Association, Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta also delivered collaborative team-building events for staff. Under the broader theme of mental health and wellbeing, the events reinforced the importance of self-care and self-compassion, fostered deeper connections between Girls Inc. team members, and left staff feeling stronger, more confident, and better equipped to address the needs of the girls we serve.
Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta also partnered with the Wood Buffalo Library for an interactive event entitled “Mental Health through Art,” where staff explored tools and used art as an outlet to destress.
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