Mental health includes having emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Over the course of a lifetime, many factors can affect mental health, including biological factors, life experiences such as trauma or abuse, and family history. In children and youth, it’s normal to experience different kinds of emotional distress as they grow and mature, however when symptoms persist, it may be more than a developmental occurrence.
The consequences of prolonged untreated mental illnesses can include educational difficulties, social disengagement, risk of suicide, and potential development of further mental health illnesses such as substance misuse.
From our community listening sessions, we identified that the high rates of youth depression and suicide contemplation is a concern for residents, and is being noticed by school nurses and other service providers. These issues are often more acute for youth who are bullied, identify as LGBTQ+, and/or students who are BIPOC.
Children, youth, and caregivers of all races and ethnicities in Whatcom County, WA; have the support, connections, and healthy relationships they need to belong and thrive.
- Increase the number of protective factors for children, youth, and parents/caregivers, by creating more opportunities for connections within the four domains of prevention, especially for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC children and youth.
- Put anti-racism into practice by strategically changing the policies, processes, and decision-making of organizations supporting child, youth, and family mental well-being.
- Increase resources and funding for child and youth mental health approaches focusing on prevention, rather than supporting punitive systems.
- Increase opportunities for one-to-one and group peer support for parents, caregivers, and those expecting children.
- Create and share trauma-informed, LGBTQ+, anti-racist, and cultural humility training for parents, caregivers, and professionals who interact with children & youth.
- Increase educational programming to K-12 students at public schools and Lummi Nation schools, to educate children and youth on mental health and self-care in the spirit of trauma-informed, compassion, and hope-informed practices serving BIPOC and LGBTQ+ children and youth.