Youth and Young Adult Peer Support Expanding Community-Driven Mental Health Resources

Summary: The Biden Administration and the U.S. Surgeon General have called for coordinated and urgent action to address the current youth mental health crisis. Years of increasing depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and other issues related to mental health among young people have only worsened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic, along with increased national attention to racial injustice and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, has especially impacted the mental health of LGBTQ+ and Black youth. Increases in young people’s distress have coincided with advocacy and public education campaigns telling youth to reach out for support. Yet, when they do, many young people and their families are met with the reality that there is little and limited help available. 

Application:  For decades, the lived experience movement in the United States and community-led efforts across the globe to address mental health needs have pointed to these system failings. As individuals who were often met with either harmful or nonexistent resources, people struggling with their mental health found that peers and their communities were essential in not just understanding their challenges but also building solutions. These peer and community-driven solutions provide effective support outside of traditional health care systems as well as support culture change within existing health care systems. 

 

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