The purpose and collaborative approach of the Stamford YMHA is to address the growing youth mental health crisis through a community-based strategy and response. To create a broad-based and effective response to the youth mental health crisis, the Stamford YMHA has organized its efforts into three integrated areas of strategic focus: Mental Wellness, Continuum of Care and Communication.
Mental Wellness (Prevention): The Stamford YMHA will enhance prevention efforts, focusing ‘upstream’ to promote mental wellness by both strengthening protective factors and reducing risk factors. We’ll invest in efforts to enhance individuals’ self-esteem, sense of wellbeing and social inclusion as well as to strengthen their ability to cope with adversity.
Continuum of Care: Stamford’s mental health crisis requires a coordinated response from all community stakeholders, including the different ways that the community supports intersect in a youth’s life and development. It’s imperative to assess our current mental health infrastructure to identify all existing resources and, following the assessment, identify gaps in services, systemic barriers to care, underutilized supports and the need for additional services.
Communication: The Stamford YMHA campaign will work to reframe the stigma associated with mental health and that it’s ‘someone else’s concern’ to spur a community-based understanding. With greater community understanding of its importance, more resources will become available for investment and expansion of programs that help young people and families achieve and maintain mental wellness.
The Stamford YMHA is a community-level response to a complex community-level need. While standard efforts are largely focused on providing clinical care in reaction to an identified need, a significant part of the care ecosystem – parents, caregiver, families, peers and community organizations – is left underutilized. This influential component that includes places where children are reared, nurtured, worship, play and engage in the community can have a potentially unlimited role in supporting mental wellness.
The strength-based approach is a hallmark of the Stamford YMHA. Applying our efforts collaboratively, Stamford can make a significant leap forward in its attitudes and efforts to help our children and adolescents thrive and remain healthy.