Youth and Mental Health by Rachel Gerstenfeld, RHEC I Emerging Professional

posted Aug 28, 2018, 9:13 AM by daniel yoo   [ updated Aug 28, 2018, 9:32 AM ]

Behavioral and mental health concerns among youth in the United States is a topic garnering more and more attention from health professionals. A variety of factors, ranging from genetics to environmental triggers, can have an impact on the developing brains of teens and young adults. From school shootings to racism to online bullying to laws stigmatizing LGBTQ individuals, many of today’s young adults face a difficult reality. With various socioeconomic and environmental factors impacting their mental health, it is more important than ever to recognize and understand the needs of our country’s youth.

Various federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have created instruments to monitor and quantify health-related behaviors among young adults. For example, this year, the CDC released data from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). YRBSS draws participation from public schools in states all over the country and measures health behaviors among American youth such as those relating to violence, tobacco use, alcohol and drug use, and sexual behavior. All states within by RHEC I—Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont—participated in the 2017 survey.

Information revealed in that survey is startling: Lesbian, gay, and bisexual students and students with disabilities reported feeling sad or hopeless at twice the rate of their peers. In Rhode Island, 14 percent of high school students made a suicide plan. Rhode Island also saw a number of health disparities in the reported data: Mental health issues were reported to be more common among female and Hispanic high school and middle school students. Males were more likely to try marijuana earlier, and Hispanic middle school students had a higher percentage of use compared to white students. In Vermont, students of color in high school were more likely to make a suicide plan. Moreover, the percentage of middle and high school students who used electronic vapor products (i.e. e-cigs) increased from the last survey in 2015.

All of these statistics and facts highlight the need for increased care, support, and specific mental health services catered to youth throughout the country. Some measures are already in place to help bridge this gap in care. For example, Vermont’s Mental Health Department is working to address the need for more services in the state by promoting a new texting hotline service to reach youth in need of help. As reiterated by Vermont Mental Health Commissioner Melissa Bailey, "We have a youth population that is struggling with some pretty stressful times.” A texting number will serve as a solid springboard for people facing challenges to seek help. The goal of the texting hotline is to encourage participants to be healthy and make decisions that will lead them toward getting the care they need to get better and live a happier, healthier life.

School-based mental health centers have been implemented and proven to be extremely beneficial, particularly for black and Hispanic students. Connecticut Association of School Based Health Centers Executive Director Jesse White-Fresé stated for the Hartford Courant that school services are “the primary place where they get their care”. While all teens may experience mental health concerns like depression, research shows that black and Hispanic students in particular are more likely than white students to struggle with the disease. The 2015 YRBSS results from Connecticut showed that 27.3 percent of black students and 36 percent of Hispanic students reported feeling sad or hopeless every day for more than two weeks, so much so that they stopped participating in their usual activities. Evidently, the 120-plus school-based health centers in Connecticut are important and much-needed services.

All in all, more needs to be done to address the needs of youth struggling with mental health issues. States across the country continue to expand and refine their psychiatric treatment facilities, such as with the proposed creation of a new psychiatric facility in Maine that would provide youth with intensive mental health care.

Teaching parents, educators, and other community members to recognize signs of depression, anxiety, drug abuse, and more are some things that can be done to get to the root of problem. Moreover, giving these people the tools to properly handle and help a young adult in crisis is imperative. A variety of mental health training courses are popping up across the country at schools and community centers, such as those held this summer at Wheeler’s Connecticut Center for Prevention, Wellness and Recovery.


ASTHO Webinar: Integrating Health Equity into Funding Opportunity Announcements

posted Jan 24, 2018, 7:04 AM by Tech Support   [ updated Jan 24, 2018, 7:05 AM ]

Date: Tuesday, February 20 
Time: 2 p.m.–3 p.m. EST 

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), with support from the HHS Office of Minority Health, will host a webinar for public health professionals involved in programming to advance health equity or in the grant-making process based on its guide for integrating health equity language into funding announcements. 

Objectives for this webinar are to: 
  • Describe federal leadership on state/regional health equity initiatives; 
  • Provide specific examples of how a state health agency has incorporated health equity language into its funding announcements; and 
  • Describe the new tool for health equity developed by ASTHO and the HHS Office of Minority Health. 
For more information and to register:

Abstracts Sought by January 12 for Atlanta BRFSS Training Workshop

posted Jan 8, 2018, 9:45 AM by Tech Support   [ updated Jan 8, 2018, 9:45 AM ]

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Conference Committee is encouraging the submission of abstracts for a presentation or poster for the BRFSS Training Workshop, April 9–13 in Atlanta, Georgia. The submission deadline is Friday, January 12. Notifications of accepted presentations will be sent by Friday, February 16. 

Click on the link below for additional information and abstract guidelines. This is a great opportunity to increase the visibility of the great work that you are doing.

New England RHEC (NERHEC) Hosted a Webinar on Rhode Island's Approach to Youth Workforce Development

posted Dec 20, 2016, 9:52 AM by Tech Support   [ updated Feb 27, 2017, 12:13 PM ]

NERHEC hosted a webinar for The Social & Health Services and Healthcare Administration at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island to present its Community Development Program. The program provides a lens by which graduates can apply coursework and academic experiences to a variety of fields for employment (and/or for continuing their studies) in non-profit organizations, public health, finance and banking, law and law enforcement, real estate and housing development, city and state government, policy research, environmental justice, and education.

View the webinar:

New England RHEC (Region I) Report Sets Baseline on Health Disparities in Region, Highlights the Plight of Disabled Population by Dr. Charles Drum

posted May 17, 2016, 5:44 PM by Tech Support   [ updated Feb 27, 2017, 1:21 PM ]

In its recent Health Equity Profile and Call to Action, the New England Regional Health Equity Council (RHEC) called for leaders and stakeholders in the region—with its growing racial and ethnic diversity—to collaborate on tackling inequities before they grow more dramatic. Our first-of-its kind report, which documents the prevalence of health disparities experienced by adult racial and ethnic minorities and adults with disabilities, provides a regional and state-by-state snapshot of health inequities. In essence, the reports identifies a problem in New England and provides a strong case to address the challenging issue of health disparities by recommending regional leaders work collaboratively to address underlying issues. Ideally, I would like to see a regional health equity summit take place. To view/download the full article please see below.

From the Ground Up: Rhode Island Officials Highlight the State’s Health Equity Zones

posted May 3, 2016, 1:39 PM by Tech Support   [ updated Feb 27, 2017, 1:21 PM ]

Recently, the NPA’s Federal Interagency Health Equity Team (FIHET) Equity in All Policies Series and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) cohosted a webinar titled, Rhode Island Health Equity Zones, which described innovative strategies implemented by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RI DOH) to eliminate health disparities. Check out the article highlighting the state’s approach.  

New England RHEC Releases Regional Health Equity Report & Call to Action

posted Mar 1, 2016, 5:32 AM by Tech Support   [ updated Feb 27, 2017, 1:21 PM ]

The New England Regional Health Equity Council (RHEC) on February 29, 2016, released a first-of-its-kind Health Equity Profile & Call to Action that provides a snapshot of the health disparities that exist in the six New England states and how the region fares on a host of other important factors that impact health. The report found that racial, ethnic and disability populations in the region have significantly lower rates of health insurance coverage, receive fewer preventive health services, smoke at higher rates and have less access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity as compared to whites and non-disability populations. In its report, the New England RHEC called for greater dialog and collaboration among the region’s leaders and stakeholders to address health disparities. Please click on the press release and report to learn more.

New England RHEC Releases Community Health Worker Factsheet

posted May 12, 2015, 1:15 PM by Tech Support   [ updated Feb 27, 2017, 1:21 PM ]

The New England RHEC has developed a factsheet, Advancing Health Equity with Community Health Workers, to introduce Community Health Workers (CHWs), the essential roles they play in advancing health equity, and examples of their effectiveness. This factsheet also highlights New England-specific information, including a collaboration with the New England CHW Coalition. Download the factsheet below. For additional resources on CHWs, please click here

Your input is crucial to ensure and improve the quality of our materials! Please click here to give us your feedback!

Community Health Workers (CHWs): Part of the Solution for Advancing Health Equity; Perspectives and Initiatives from Region I Webinar

posted Sep 11, 2014, 12:12 PM by Tech Support   [ updated Feb 27, 2017, 1:22 PM ]

On August 5, 145 participants attended the New England RHEC hosted a webinar on “Community Health Workers (CHWs): Part of the Solution for Advancing Health Equity; Perspectives and Initiatives from Region I.” The webinar was hosted in partnership with the Association for State and Territorial Heath Officials (ASTHO). Presentations highlighted promising practices from the two decades of CHW workforce development in the New England states, and state level partnerships and collaborations. Recommendations were provided to the regional leaders for employing these practices throughout the nation.

Speakers focused on the critical role of CHWs in advancing health equity, examining the CHW workforce development models implemented in Massachusetts in Maine. Presenters included New England RHEC members Durrell J. Fox, Director of Minority AIDS Initiative at the New England AIDS Education and Training Center and Barbara Ginley, Project Director of the Maine Community Health Workers Initiative. They were joined by CHW Workforce Consultant Lisa Renee Holderby-Fox and Geoff Wilkinson, Associate Professor of the Macro Social Work Department at Boston University’s School of Social Work.

A recording of the webinar can be viewed here:

New England RHEC Intern Spotlight: Toddchelle Young

posted May 19, 2014, 5:22 PM by Tech Support   [ updated Feb 27, 2017, 1:22 PM ]

The New England RHEC would like to congratulate their departing intern, Toddchelle Young, who received her Masters of Public Health degree from Columbia University this spring. A recent article in the New Haven Independent documents her journey to achieving this milestone. In addition to cultivating a youth component and social media strategy for the New England RHEC, Ms. Young has been working on her degree full-time while providing for her family. Her career aspiration is to graduate from medical school as a public health doctor focusing on preventive care for minority patients.

Toddchelle Young has conquered formidable obstacles in order to pursue this dream while supporting her family through homelessness, depression, and lifelong debilitating disease. Raised in the New Haven housing projects, Toddchelle recognized that minorities in her community had higher rates of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and asthma, than their white counterparts in wealthier neighboring communities. “My experience in New Haven has informed every single thing that I’ve done,” explains Ms. Young.

To read Toddchelle Young’s full story in the New Haven Independent, please click here.

1-10 of 15