Mental Health Resources
Adolescence is a time for young people to have a healthy start in life. The number of adolescents reporting poor mental health is increasing. Building strong bonds and connecting to youth can protect their mental health. Schools and parents can create these protective relationships with students and help them grow into healthy adulthood.
What Schools Can Do to Protect Adolescent Mental Health
Schools play an important role in good adolescent mental health. Establishing safe and supportive school environments is an effective way to help youth by connecting adolescents to networks of caring peers and adults. Research shows that students with someone at school who cares about them have better academic performance, health, and behavioral outcomes.
A safe and supportive school environment should:
- Provide ongoing development and training to teachers on how to manage classroom by reinforcing positive behaviors and establishing rules, routines and expectations.
- Support student led-clubs, like gay-straight alliances, so students have a safe space to socialize and connect with supportive school staff.
- Facilitate positive youth development activities, like mentoring programs, volunteer opportunities, and programs that connect them to a network of supportive adults.
- Provide parents and families with resources that support positive parenting practices such as open, honest communication and parental supervision.
What Families and Parents Can Do to Protect Adolescent Mental Health
- Communicate openly and honestly, including about their values.
- Supervise their adolescent to facilitate healthy decision-making.
- Spend time with their adolescent enjoying shared activities.
- Become engaged in school activities and help with homework.
- Volunteer at their adolescent’s school.
- Communicate regularly with teachers and administrators.
For more information on adolescent and school health by the CDC, follow this link.
Through funding from the Schweitzer Fellowship, UT Health students and Amaanah Services are launching the Immigrant Health Initiative (IHI) to equip immigrant women with the capacity to take ownership of their own health legacies. Every two weeks, a new short video on a new topic will be posted on social media in three different languages; English, Arabic and Spanish. Please take a few minutes to watch the intro video. Fill the short survey using the link below to help Amaanah Services cover topics that you believe are important. By filling the survey you will also enter for a chance to win a $20 gift card!
Survey Link (English): https://tinyurl.com/AmaanahIHISurveyEnglish
English Video: https://youtu.be/nq670M9mcX0
Survey Link (Arabic): https://tinyurl.com/AmaanahIHISurveyArabic
Arabic video: https://youtu.be/RRcSV2-vTbg
Survey link (Spanish): https://tinyurl.com/AmaanahIHISurveySpanish
Spanish video: https://youtu.be/DtK5rpZXKqw
Aspiring Young Adults Info FormAspiring Young Adults is a mentoring program through GRADcafé by Project GRAD that addresses the personal, educational, and social needs of young adults and adults that are disconnected from education and who are committed to joining the program and working together with their mentor to develop and achieve their specific goals.
A mentee (that is you) needs to be committed to putting in the time, energy, and work in order to reap the benefits of this program. We look forward to meeting you.
Interested? Then REGISTER here!
Promoting social and emotional learning (SEL) has become a major focus in schools and youth-serving organizations, as research continues to document the value and importance of such training for both academic and life success. The Resource Finder provides a variety of resources to help you learn about SEL, apply teaching methodologies and assess your efforts.
Learn: Schools have primarily focused on academic learning, but over the past few decades, a growing body of research has shown how efforts to foster social and emotional learning (SEL) in children and youth can make a real difference in children’s lives, both academically and socially, and both now and in the long term. LEARN about what SEL is, why it is important, and the evidence that supports the promotion of social and emotional competence in children and youth.
Apply: How do you foster SEL in children and youth? In this section of the site, we provide links to a broad range of programs, curricula, lesson plans, activities, books, videos and other resources for promoting social and emotional competencies in children and youth.
Assess: How do you evaluate the success of your efforts to foster SEL? In this section of the site, we focus on the importance of “evidence-based practices”, which involves utilizing programs, lessons and activities that have been shown to be effective as well as evaluating the effectiveness of your own efforts.
By learning about mental health and well-being and supporting children who experience mental health difficulties, adults will be better able to create contexts and classrooms in which children feel safe seeking help when needed and in which biases and stigmas are reduced, enhancing children’s feelings of acceptance, belonging and well-being.
Learn: Many mental health disorders first emerge in childhood and adolescence, with an estimated 15-20% of North American children and youth experiencing significant mental health problems. In order to support these students, it is important for adults to foster mental well-being and mental health literacy in their classrooms and schools. This section provides resources for promoting mental health literacy, including learning about mental well-being as well as the mental health disorders that some children and youth faced.
Support: Teachers and adults who work with children and youth play a key role in supporting students who experience mental health difficulties. In this section, find out how you can SUPPORT children and youth by promoting mental well-being in the classroom, reducing the stigma associated with mental health difficulties, increasing students’ willingness to ask for help when needed, and providing accommodations and a context in which troubled youth can achieve optimally.
The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a terrible toll on the health and well-being of youth and young adults. Already alarming rates of depression, suicide, and anxiety are exacerbated by the isolation, contact restrictions, and economic challenges brought on by the pandemic. Black, Indigenous, and other youth of color (BIYOC); youth involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems; and other traditionally underserved youth already are impacted at levels worse than their white or non-system involved peers, further hindering their ability to survive and thrive during the pandemic. As traditionally underserved youth navigate the pandemic, all systems need to develop and implement innovative strategies to address their existing and emerging health and mental health needs.
Addressing Mental Health Disparities During the Pandemic
Before COVID-19, the American Psychological Association estimated that 15 million youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Over 80 percent of youth in need of mental health services do not receive services in their communities, with BIYOC and LGTBQ youth the most likely groups not to receive needed care. School-based health centers in urban areas were 21 times more likely to provide mental health services than community-based providers. With schools closed, youth who receive their mental health services in their schools now need to find alternatives to care.
School-based mental health providers such as school counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists remain the first point of contact for students who are depressed, isolated, anxious, and now those traumatized by the pandemic. The American School Counselor Association and the National Association of School Psychologists developed a school reentry guide advising their members to develop cross-system plans that engage school and community resources. A key recommendation is to map available resources and needs to address short- and long-term needs, including repositioning staff to where they are needed most. School leaders are also learning how to leverage technology to meet the social, emotional, and mental health needs of middle and high school students.
Establishing partnerships with community-based mental health providers is a strategy already increasingly used to meet the mental health needs of BIYOC students. In Washington, DC, the Achievement Preparatory Academy is partnering with the AprilMay Company, Inc., a local behavioral health organization, to provide social-emotional and mental health services to their students. Teachers and counselors recognized the pandemic added multiple stressors to families already struggling to meet basic needs. To help students and families cope, they expanded access to mental health services, from the individual and small group services offered prior to the crisis, to any student, teacher, or family member using telemedicine resources.
Schools are also leveraging resources from organizations like The Trevor Project to supplement the services they provide for at-risk students. In the second annual National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2020, The Trevor Project reports almost 70 percent of LGBTQ youth have experienced anxiety in the past two weeks, and nearly half report they wanted but were not able to access mental health services in the past year. To address these and other needs, The Trevor Project offers a wide range of services, including the TrevorLifeline for crisis counseling, TrevorChat and TrevorText which provide access to counselors, and TrevorSpace, whichis an online international peer-to-peer community for LGBTQ young people and their friends.
The Steve Fund provides support for college-age BIYOC students through its crisis text line. They, along with their partner The Jed Foundation, assist higher education institutions in developing an Equity in Mental Health Framework composed of actionable strategies they can implement to bridge mental health disparities facing students of color. The framework was developed in response to data they collected that revealed that college students of color were almost twice as likely not to seek help when they feel depressed or anxious compared to white students. They also found that only 28 percent of students of color found their campuses inclusive, compared to 45 percent of their white peers. As a result, nearly half reported feeling isolated on campus. These data reveal that attention to the mental health needs of students of color persists into the higher education learning experience.
System-Involved Youth at High Risk for COVID-19
For the roughly 48,000 youth held in juvenile detention facilities across the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic is also proving especially concerning. Black and Indigenous youth are overrepresented in juvenile facilities, with Black boys and Black and Indigenous girls, extremely overrepresented relative to their share of the total youth population. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, and youth currently or previously involved with the foster care system are also overrepresented in the juvenile justice system. Even before the pandemic, youth detention facilities failed to adequately address the health and mental health needs of BIYOC and LGBTQ youth. These uniquely vulnerable youth often come to juvenile facilities with a host of pre-existing needs such as physical or sexual abuse, accidents, serious illness, and violence. These traumatic events often lead to depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, most facilities are ill-equipped to address their needs with only 53 of 3,500 juvenile justice residential facilities in the United States having received accreditation for the health care they provide. Coincidentally, calls to end the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion would require standards to ensure quality health care services in juvenile and adult detention facilities.
While many youth have been released or diverted from detention as a result of the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) joins juvenile justice reform advocates in the call for incarcerated youth to receive “…special consideration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Specifically, the Academy is asking that state agencies craft pandemic plans that release youth from custody who can be safely cared for in their communities. Before they are released, a comprehensive transition plan should be developed to include screening for health and mental health needs and restoring health benefits lost during incarceration. Community-based organizations providing youth reentry services should receive additional funding to provide virtual and in-person services, with appropriate safety precautions. For the youth who remain incarcerated, every effort should be made to ensure their safety, including improved hygiene practices, social distancing that is not solitary confinement, coronavirus testing, and a continuation of any health and mental health services they were receiving before the pandemic.
Resources for Policymakers and Practitioners
The undeniable disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Indigenous, and other youth of color (BIYOC); youth involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems; and other traditionally underserved youth requires a targeted response. Federal, state, and local governments must enact policies and implement evidence-based programs that protect and support vulnerable youth during and after the immediate pandemic crisis. AYPF has created a COVID-19 Information Hub that provides useful resources for youth most at risk. We will continue to update this information hub and invite your active participation in planned learning events as we explore strategies from the AYPF peer network.
- Week 1: Justice-Involved Youth
- Week 2: English Language Learners (ELL)
- Week 3: Youth in Foster Care
- Week 4: Rural Populations
- Week 5: First-Generation College Students
- Week 6: Youth with (Dis)abilities
- Week 7: Resources for Parents
- Week 8: Youth Experiencing Homelessness
- Week 9: Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
- Week 10: Resources related to Reopening of Schools
Have a girl in grades 3rd – 12th? Both of you can experience Girls Empowerment Network’s live programs and resources from the comfort of your own home. Do a quick tutorial, download an activity, or connect with others in our network through a live workshop to combat stress, anxiety or anything that may be on your mind.
LOCAL SUPPORT AND RESOURCES
Anyone currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should contact their healthcare provider. Harris County residents without access to healthcare can call the triage line for COVID-19-related questions at 713.634.1110 from 9am-7pm, 7 days a week. For more information on COVID-19, please go to www.ReadyHarris.org or www.hcphtx.org.
Harris County/Houston Self-Assessment Tool: Determine whether you may need further assessment or need to be tested for COVID-19.
Houston Food Bank: Find a partner near you, apply for SNAP, call their helpline at 832.369.9390 or text FOOD to 855.308.2282 to find your nearest food pantry.
Houstonians with disabilities can still contact MOPD staff for referrals and constituent services by calling 832.394.0814 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org during normal business hours.
LOCAL CORONAVIRUS HOTLINES
For Harris County Residents:
The Harris Center’s Harris County COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line: 833-251-7544 (Available 24/7)
Harris County Public Health: 832-927-7575* (*This number is staffed 9 a.m. to 7p.m. everyday)
Harris Health System: 713-634-1110* (*This number is 9am-7pm, everyday clinical-related questions only)
For City of Houston Residents:
Houston Health Department: 832-393-4220* (*This number is staffed 9 a.m. to 7p.m. M-F, 9am-3pm on Sat.)
For Fort Bend County Residents:
Fort Bend County Health & Human Services: 281-633-7795* (*This number is Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm)
For questions about COVID‑19, including finding a doctor or accessing medical care, dial 2‑1‑1, then choose Option 6.
(Hours: 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., 7 days per week)
Resources for Mental Health Resources
- Connection is Key to Good Adolescent Mental Health| CDC
- Immigrant Health Initiative (IHI)
- ProjectGRAD: Aspiring Young Adults Mentoring Program
- The University of British Columbia – Social & Emotional Learning Resource Finder
- American Youth Policy Forum – How COVID-19 Affects Mental Health Disparities for Vulnerable Youth
- Girls Empowerment Network Virtual Resources
- Local Support and Resources from Mental Health America of Greater Houston