Georgia’s Approach to Youth Mental Wellness: Initiatives and Programs

Youth mental wellness has been taking a hit lately, with unprecedented levels of depression and anxiety in children, teens, and adolescents. Some of the reasons for this epidemic include educational pressures, social media influences, lack of access to mental health services, and family dynamics. So, by understanding these challenges, you and everyone around you can play a crucial role in shaping interventions that support our youth. For example, your involvement ensures that young people, including LGBTQ+ youths, thrive in an environment that fosters resilience and well-being. Join us on this journey to discover Georgia’s approach to youth mental wellness initiatives and programs that are not just making a difference — but are significantly increasing youth mental wellness state-wide.

Initiatives and Programs for Increasing Youth Mental Wellness

Plenty of initiatives and programs exist with the purpose of raising awareness and improving the overall mental health of youth.

For example, some health organizations are constantly launching new initiatives, including:

  • Kids on the Block
  • Georgia Apex Program
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid
  • Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education)
  • NAMI Georgia
  • Voices for Georgia’s Children

Now, we’ll cover each of the initiatives and programs in more depth.

Kids on the Block

Kids on the Block transforms how children view mental wellness through a unique and engaging puppetry program. The facilitators of this program utilize life-sized, multicultural puppets to bring to life sessions that empower children to understand and express their feelings in a safe and dynamic way.

Alt-tag: A young man by himself, writing something down
Caption: A safe environment is a critical component in Georgia’s approach to youth mental wellness.

For illustration, these sessions are tailored to address common emotional challenges and encourage children to openly discuss the stressors they encounter at school, at home, or in other environments.

Georgia Apex Program

Georgia Apex Program enhances the mental health landscape for students by achieving three key objectives:

  • Expanding access to mental health services
  • Ensuring students can easily obtain the support they need
  • Prioritizing early identification of mental health issues
  • Fostering a robust partnership between local schools and community mental health providers

Speaking of community mental health providers, healing programs can quickly help students and other youth find their path to mental stability. Programs provided by reputable institutions offer seasoned mental health professionals ready to help people battle any type of mental health illness. Luckily, Georgia has some great ones–primarily the respected Time Wellness Georgia, a center dedicated to promoting holistic health and well-being through a range of services tailored to individual needs. With its modern facilities, it provides comprehensive care that greatly benefits teens and adolescents, helping them achieve mental well-being.

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Georgia’s approach to youth mental wellness also includes a program called Youth Mental Health First Aid. It empowers a wide range of individuals, including parents, neighbors, teachers, and health professionals.

This program involves adults who frequently interact with young people and provides them with crucial insights into typical adolescent development and mental health issues.

Alt-tag: A group of peers hanging out on a rooftop, discussing mental health issues
Caption: Programs like the Youth Mental Health First Aid equip teenagers with tools to battle any crisis.

Through a structured action plan, participants learn how to handle crisis and non-crisis situations adeptly. For example, the curriculum covers a spectrum of mental health conditions like anxiety, ADHS, eating disorders, substance abuse, and many others. Finally, Youth Mental Health First Aid gives parents, teachers, and other participants the resources to act responsibly and offer immediate support to at-risk youth.

Project AWARE

Georgia’s Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) is a big step toward mental health advocacy and education. Launched in late 2020, this initiative is a collaboration between the Georgia Department of Education and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

For illustration, the primary goals of Project AWARE include:

  • Heightening awareness of mental health issues among students
  • Equipping school personnel with the skills to recognize mental health concerns
  • Ensuring that students with behavioral health challenges are connected to the proper services

Apart from that, the program also focuses on how LGBTQ youths can adopt coping skills and learn how to face challenges in their daily lives.

NAMI Georgia

NAMI Georgia is a branch of the National Alliance of Mental Illness in Georgia, the nation’s largest organization that deals with mental health illness.

Furthermore, it envisions a world where everyone impacted by mental illness can lead fulfilling, healthy lives supported by a caring community. They provide robust support through their network, offer support groups, and ensure that no child, teen, or adolescent has to face their mental health journey alone.

On the advocacy front, NAMI Georgia actively shapes national public policy to benefit individuals with mental illness and their families. In short, they equip volunteer leaders with the essential tools and resources to advocate effectively for mental health at all governmental levels.

Alt-tag: Three young women hanging out in the street, hugging and having a great time
Caption: Initiatives and programs help children, teens, and adolescents find greater mental well-being.

Most importantly, NAMI’s toll-free HelpLine addresses hundreds of thousands of inquiries yearly, offers free information and support, and serves as a critical lifeline to many seeking help.

Voices for Georgia’s Children

Voices for Georgia’s Children applies a multifaceted approach to the well-being of kids Georgia-wide. They not only deal with mental health conditions but also focus on:

  • Proper nutrition
  • Healthcare
  • Secure housing

Working on research, policy, advocacy, and organizational capacity to benefit youths, Voices for Georgia’s Children wants to help society resolve inequities rooted in:

  • Income levels
  • Racial discrimination
  • Educational disparities
  • Geographic location
  • Disability

By promoting systemic change, they also address mental health issues, which are a critical component of child well-being.

How Many Young People in Georgia Suffer From Mental Illness?

Now that you know where to seek help and get involved, you’re probably asking yourself: How many young people have mental illness in Georgia?

According to the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, one in eight teens faces depression. That’s a troubling statistic, with many kids still feeling a sense of stigma due to their mental health condition.

Georgia has one of the highest rates of youth with major depression who don’t receive any form of treatment. To make things worse, our state has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, with some 22% of high school students considering attempting suicide in 2021 alone.

Georgia’s approach to youth mental wellness underscores the need for enhanced mental health services and better accessibility to care for young people here.

Final Remarks

As we explored, youth mental health has been experiencing a decline lately. However, with Georgia’s approach to youth mental wellness, more and more organizations are stepping up to assist young people in this battle. It all starts with understanding the issues and how best to approach them. So, with each step we take, we are more prepared to offer (and receive) help. Remember that you are not alone in this fight and that it’s now a weakness or a burden to ask for help.