FARMINGTON — This spring, United Way issued a $50,000 challenge grant to achieve one of its strategic goals — youth mental health. At a recent board meeting, the applications were reviewed and the Healthy Community Coalition secured funding.
United Way supports HCC’s evidence-based program, called the Franklin County Youth Mattering Initiative. It will bring together civic organizations, businesses, schools and law enforcement to develop and implement a countywide Youth Mattering program. According to the Maine Resilience Building Network, significance is feeling important and valued by others. People who believe they matter to others have a key protective resource that can shield them from life’s stressors and challenges throughout their lives. Data from Maine highlights that nearly half of young people feel they don’t matter to their community, and an overwhelming number suffer from anxiety, depression and feelings of hopelessness.
“Through my current job as Youth Engagement Coordinator, I see how tense, exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed youth in our community are. I have had long conversations with young people and adults serving youth, and the demand for mental health resources and support has never been higher. I look forward to working collaboratively with youth and adult stakeholders on strategic initiatives targeting this cause and implementing evidence-based programs throughout Greater Franklin County. – Jason Labbe, Healthy Community Coalition
As part of the Youth Mattering program, staff:
• Create an advisory committee with key stakeholders to help inform and implement the work.
• Hire a young part-time community health worker to help develop and implement the program.
• Develop and implement an education program and wellness guide for adults and community members working with youth on recognizing the signs/symptoms of a mental health problem
• Partner with county organizations to provide health and wellness opportunities for all young people, especially at-risk youth, and caregivers.
• Pilot a youth wellness program at RSU 9 and RSU 73 that promotes overall wellness and links overall health to its impact on mental health
• Contracted with the Maine Resilience Building Network to hold community town halls on the importance of youth and to provide training for teachers, coaches, businesses, parents, etc.
• Partner with school resource officers, teachers, and graduate jobs in Maine to engage/talk with at-risk youth, learn more about their needs and how they can connect to resources.
For more information on United Way, visit 218 Fairbanks Road in Farmington, visit the website: www.uwtva.org. To keep up to date with this and other events, be sure to follow United Way on Facebook (www.facebook.com/uwtva) and Instagram.