Adolescent Mental Health
As any parent can attest, adolescence is a tumultuous time in a child’s life. The threats to the health of adolescents are not generally diseases or chronic conditions, but rather accidental injury from risky behaviors. It is also a time of high stress as youth confront the pressures of adolescence and seek to fit in.
Access to appropriate mental health services remains a major concern in the region. The 2016 MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey (MWAHS) found that 4.0 percent of MetroWest high school students reported attempting suicide and 18.1 percent reported experiencing depressive symptoms in the past 12 months. For LGBT youth, the rates are significantly higher.
We also know that teens today are suffering real and serious consequences because of bullying. Bullying and cyberbullying victims report more mental health problems than those who are not bullied, according to the 2012 MWAHS.
Adolescent health has long been a priority of the foundation. The foundation will continue to invest in adolescent health, placing a priority on mental health prevention, intervention and access to treatment.
- Reduce the incidence of bullying and cyberbullying by supporting school policy change and community awareness and education efforts.
- Decrease the percent of adolescents in grantee communities reporting self-injury, suicide attempts, thoughts of suicide and depressive symptoms by funding purchase of evidence-based universal mental health curricula and programs as well as school-based intervention strategies designed for at-risk students.
- Lower Rates of Bullying
In 2010 the foundation launched a three-year bullying prevention initiative in five middle school districts, investing approximately $60,000 per community. As a result of their work, these five communities showed decreases in bullying exceeding the MetroWest average from 2010 to 2012.
- Stronger School Mental Health Programs
The foundation funded four school districts to conduct a Mental Health Capacity Assessment, which enabled schools to identify and prioritize which services and schools in their districts require support or modifications. The foundation has also funded several school districts to offer programs that support students returning from psychiatric hospitalization, modeled on the Brookline Resilient Youth Team program.
- Data on Adolescent Risky Behaviors
The foundation continues to fund the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey which includes data about mental health, bullying and other risky behaviors from every public middle and high schooler in the region.