The ‘Youth Behavioral Health Initiative’ Launched To Empower Kids With Mental Health Resources


Youth Behavioral Health Initiative

Mental health, especially among Idaho’s youth, has become a paramount concern for Communities for Youth, and as a result  ‘The Youth Behavioral Health Initiative’ was launched by a local organization dedicated to assisting parents and children in addressing mental health issues and providing essential resources.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the organization launched the “Boise Youth Behavioral Health Initiative.”

Megan Smith, the founding director of Communities for Youth, explained the motivation behind this initiative, stating, “Across the nation, and across the state of Idaho, youth mental health rates for depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation and completion have all been consistently high and getting higher over time.”

Results Of Survey Paved The Way For ‘Youth Behavioral Health Initiative’

To gain a better understanding of the mental health landscape in Boise, the organization conducted a comprehensive survey among young people to assess their experiences and challenges concerning mental health.

The survey results were alarming. Smith noted, “We had 44% of high school students showing moderate to severe depression, and at the middle school level, it’s 30%, both higher than the national average.”

With these sobering statistics, Communities for Youth recognized the need for action. This realization led to the inception of the “Youth Behavioral Health Initiative,” garnering support from St. Luke’s hospital and the city of Boise.

Kate Nelson, the Community Partnership Director for the city of Boise, emphasized the collaborative nature of addressing mental health issues, saying, “Mental health is not any one entity’s responsibility; it really takes government, faith leaders, school officials, and medical practitioners. It is our shared and collective responsibility to take care of our youth, particularly their health and well-being.”

At the core of the initiative is the idea of involving as many stakeholders as possible to identify strategies for reducing mental health challenges among youth.

Communities for Youth identified two significant factors contributing to these mental health issues: stress and social isolation. Importantly, these factors are changeable, offering hope for intervention and improvement.

Megan Smith highlighted the unique approach of the initiative, stating, “This approach invites them in and says you don’t need to be a mental health care expert or professional; you just need to come in, converse with us. Together, all of us have different pieces, and when we put them together, we can change mental health in the state of Idaho and in the city of Boise.”

The primary goal of the initiative is to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the problem and collaborate to find effective solutions.

Smith emphasized the importance of ongoing data collection, saying, “We only have one snapshot of data. So, we only have data from last November at this moment. The goal is to do it once a year, every year. That will take our parents and our community members really stepping on board to help us get that done.”

In essence, the “Youth Behavioral Health Initiative” represents a proactive and community-driven approach to addressing the mental health challenges faced by young people in Idaho. By bringing together various stakeholders and fostering open conversations, the initiative seeks to not only raise awareness but also implement preventative measures and ultimately transform the mental health landscape for the better.

In a society where mental health issues among youth are on the rise, initiatives like these play a crucial role in building resilience, offering support, and ensuring that the well-being of young individuals remains a top priority. The commitment to creating a healthier and more supportive environment for youth underscores the shared responsibility of the community in promoting mental health and emotional well-being.

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