A group of young adults to assist schools in addressing youth mental health challenges

Nelly Grosso, an AmeriCorps member at a Denver-area high school, has actively worked to enhance students’ mental and emotional well-being. She has connected LGBTQ+ students with supportive organizations, assisted newcomer students in accessing resources, and collaborated with community partners to provide crucial support.

Upon learning about the launch of the Youth Mental Health Corps program, designed to offer essential mental health services to teens, Grosso eagerly joined as a corps navigator to further contribute to student well-being.

“Being able to assist students who may not usually seek help is incredibly rewarding. Whether they reach out for resume guidance or college scholarship advice, knowing that I can support them in various ways ultimately ties back to mental health,” stated Grosso, 24, supported in her AmeriCorps role by Colorado Youth For A Change.

The Youth Mental Health Corps, a collaborative effort involving the Schultz Family Foundation, Pinterest, America Forward, AmeriCorps, and other entities, will deploy hundreds of corps members to schools and community organizations in select states from September 2024. Additional states plan to launch their own corps in fall 2025, aiming to address mental health challenges among youth.

Targeting young adults aged 18-24, the near-peer navigators will undergo training to identify signs of mental distress and assist students dealing with anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other mental health issues. The program’s objective includes expanding the pool of trained mental health professionals.

Grosso highlighted the comprehensive training provided by Colorado Youth For A Change, focusing on supporting LGBTQ+, unhoused, and Black youth communities. “The training has equipped me to offer the best possible support at the school,” Grosso emphasized.

The rising need for assistance

At the kickoff event in Washington, D.C., U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy praised the collaboration behind the corps, emphasizing the private sector’s role in expanding youth access to mental health care and inspiring future mental health providers.

The launch of the Youth Mental Health Corps addresses the high demand for mental health services in schools, especially amidst inadequate school-based resources.

In Maryland, legislation effective July 1 mandates mental health training for high school and higher education coaches to recognize signs of mental illness and behavioral distress in student athletes.

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