SANTA BARBARA, CA – Girls Inc., the leading nonprofit that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, has been selected as a Youth Making Change grantee. With this grant, Girls Inc.’s new Teen Advocacy Council (TAC) proposes to host a Mental Wellness Summit in the summer of 2023. Without the right to vote, teens say they feel disempowered and some despair about their ability to influence issues of today that have such specific bearing on their lives. The goal of this group is to provide teens with the tools necessary to take charge of their lives through advocacy.
The Summit Committee will come together in January 2023 with monthly meetings leading up to the Mental Wellness Summit in August. With this Summit, teens will actively advocate for their own mental health. By offering an event that encourages the local teen community to honestly discuss their biggest mental health concerns, GIGSB aims to address systemic issues that impact young people throughout Santa Barbara. Aided by guest mental health professionals, the Summit will identify root causes and ways to manage stressors from our environment and initiate systemic change.
“I never felt like I was directly helping our community until working on the mental health summit,” said Saku-chan, Freshman at Dos Pueblos Highschool.. “I’m still trying to grasp how many people we’ll be able to help through our mental health summit.”
Our teen community will identify and share mental wellness priorities, specifically impacting girls, to hear, educate, and empower attendees to take charge of their mental health. Our Mental Wellness Summit seeks to address environmental stressors and systemic, root causes of emotional discomfort and mental illness that disproportionately impact girls by providing tools for mental health education and wellness support.
The Teen Advocacy Council aims to serve the underrepresented demographics in the community through advocacy, workshops, surveys, leadership development and education.
Unlike most traditional charity or direct service, the Summit will advocate to change systems that hinder, and limit girls’ lives and potential. With mental health professionals, we will explore systemic, root causes of emotional discomfort and mental illness which disproportionately impact girls.
“It feels great to be advocating for mental health for teens because high school is an environment where stress is a big part of life and making sure that teens keep their mental health in check will help them as a person overall,” said Sagarika, Sophomore at Dos Pueblos Highschool.
Mental illness disproportionately impacts girls, people of color, people from low-income communities, and LGBTQ+ people. According to the 2019 Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System, girls were more likely than boys to seriously consider attempting suicide. From February 21st to March 20th, 2021, emergency room visits involving suspected suicide attempts were 50.6% higher among girls aged 12-17 years old than during the same period in 2019.
“Mental health is so often overlooked despite being something that has affected nearly everyone,” said Dos Pueblos High School Freshman, Olivia.
Our Mental Wellness Summit provides a unique platform for teens to amplify their voices and advocate for themselves and their rights. A grant from Youth Making Change will provide the footing we need to establish a viable and sustainable platform for our teens to identify and engage with issues that are important to them – on a community, state, and national level. Since 2008, YMC has awarded more than $380,000 to over 170 youth-led groups throughout Santa Barbara County.
Date Stamp: February 2023