Partnering for Mental Health —The Conversation Continues: How CHC is Leveraging Community Partnerships to Address Teen Mental Health
Palo Alto, CA March 20, 2017– On March 16, 2017, Children’s Health Council (CHC)’s 4th Annual Breakfast showcased CHC partners who are successfully making strides to combat teen anxiety, depression and suicide.
Over 300 parents, professionals and community members attended the event, held at Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club in Menlo Park. The program was moderated by Ramsey Khasho, PsyD, Director of The Center at CHC, and featured three of CHC’s many partners: Nancy Lublin, Founder & CEO, Crisis Text Line; Jayne Appel, NBA star and Bring Change 2 Mind Ambassador; and Dr. James B. Everitt, Director, Office of Mission Initiatives & Institutional Planning, Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton. Each shared their personal motives for raising awareness about teen anxiety, depression and suicide, and touted the critical role partnerships play in building solutions. The Breakfast was hosted by Co-Chairs Catherine Harvey and Perri Guthrie. Sponsors included Stanford Children’s Health/ Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, Taube Philanthropies and Wilkes Bashford. The CHC Breakfast raised awareness and critical dollars for CHC’s continued work. Thanks to generous community support, all donations to CHC’s Teen Mental Health Initiative (TMHI) will be matched up to two million dollars.
CHC launched TMHI in 2016 to reduce teen suicide and improve youth wellness by providing affordable therapy, free community education and leveraged community engagement. “We’ve seen extraordinary compassion for struggling teens and their families,” said Khasho at the Breakfast. “We’ve seen hope, renewed life and advocacy bursting out of the crushing pain of local community parents who have lost their children to suicide. We’ve witnessed the selfless generosity of so many people across the community who’ve volunteered their time, made generous financial contributions, and encouraged us with words of affirmation and kindness, all for the sake of strengthening our children’s futures. This is important work that we must continue to do together.”
Nadia Ghaffari, a charismatic junior at Los Altos High School and founder of TeenzTalk.org, kicked off the Breakfast program. TeenzTalk.org connects teens worldwide with mental health resources and provides a platform for teens to connect. Ghaffari also participates in CHC’s Teen Mental Health Committee, a unique opportunity for teens to take part in mental health innovation. “Thank you, CHC, for letting teens be a part of the conversation,” she said.
Nancy Lublin’s innovative approach to business, teens and technology has led her to build three companies that emphasize social good. But it was while still CEO of her second company, DoSomething.org, that an unexpected event shifted Lublin’s focus to mental health. A staff member received a troubling text message from an at-risk teen and shared it with Lublin. “It was an ‘aha’ moment,” Lublin recalls. “If someone is feeling so scared and desperate that they reach out by text, then we need to build something that gives them this kind of support.” In 2015 Lublin launched Crisis Text Line (CTL), a nonprofit that offers free, 24/7 anonymous text-message counseling for people in need. In 2016, CTL processed 32 million messages, helping an average of 2,500 people each day. And they are leveraging this anonymous data for social good: analyzing trends to research key high-risk words, days/times and demographics. “We are so glad to partner with CHC and its expanded affordable therapy services,” said Lublin. “CHC’s efforts to bring the community together through partnerships, and its’ soon-to-open Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is so needed,” said Lublin.
For Jayne Appel, retired WNBA Star and Bring Change 2 Mind Advocate, the focus on mental health came from personal experience: Appel’s close family member was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Not understanding the illness, Appel felt confused and embarrassed. It took years to find the right doctors, the right diagnosis, and the right medications. “I still feel bad for thinking schizophrenia meant that my family member was crazy. I now know that he could no more control his behavior than I could stop breathing,” said Appel. She went on to star in basketball at Stanford University where she studied psychology, followed by time playing for the Women’s National Basketball Association on the San Antonio Stars. Appel used her star status to raise awareness and reduce stigma of mental health as an advocate for Bring Change 2 Mind. Bring Change 2 Mind works to reduce stigma and end discrimination around mental illness through influential Public Service Announcements, school education programs, and a social movement.
James B. Everitt, EdD, Director of the Office of Mission Initiatives & Institutional Planning at Sacred Heart Schools, has worked in both public and private schools for the past 22 years. During this time, Everitt has seen a distinct change in student health concerns. Earlier in his career, mental health was an off-campus issue, not discussed or addressed at school. Nowadays, students require—and parents expect—more support at school. “The top two types of stress we see today are anxiety and panic attacks,” said Everitt. School staff members are now aware of the potential for suicide, they have learned the warning signs, and schools have put systems in place to support vulnerable students. “In any school, independent or public, having a strong school/parent partnership is the single most important factor in successfully supporting a student who struggles, said Everitt. We are proud to partner with CHC to help build whole support systems between students, families and schools so students can take healthy risks, and learn from successes and failure.”
“Teen mental health and wellness is a complex issue that is top priority for our community,” said CHC Executive Director, Dr. Rosalie Whitlock. “There is so much important work to be done and none of us can solve it alone. We must continue to partner and leverage our collective strengths to support our teens.” The CHC Breakfast Co-chairs agreed, closing the event by saying, “We are here to speak up and speak out to save lives. We want our children, our friends’ children and our community of young people, to be able to find wellness, hope and resiliency. This is the reason we are here today.”
CHC has been providing top-rated education and mental health services to families in this community for over 60 yrs. Specializing in ADHD, Learning Differences, Autism, and Anxiety & Depression, CHC has two schools, two clinics, and a strong program of free community education. CHC’s Teen Mental Health Initiative is an expansion of CHC’s work with teens and families with anxiety and depression, and offers a continuum of care and support that includes affordable teen therapy, free community education, and leveraged community partnerships. The goals of the initiative are to connect those in need to those who can help, increase awareness, remove stigma, and reduce teen suicide.
Through the initiative, CHC has expanded its services to include:
- increased affordable and accessible therapy and psychiatry services for teens and their families
- the first IOP in Palo Alto for Teens (Spring 2017)
- a series of community education classes about teen mental health to build awareness and understanding
- a Leadership Collaborative, in conjunction with Stanford, of over 40 leaders across multiple agencies, to promote easier access for Bay Area teens and their families to mental health services
- a forum and platform where teens can raise issues about teen mental health and use their voices to implement change in the community.