United Way awards $50,000 grant for Youth Mental Health

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FARMINGTON – This spring United Way issued a $50,000 challenge grant to address one of its strategic goals – youth mental health. At a recent board meeting, applications were considered, and the Healthy Community Coalition was awarded funding.

United Way is supporting 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 county-wide Youth Mattering program. According to the Maine Resilience Building Network, mattering is the sense of being significant and valued by other people. People who believe they matter to others have a key protective resource that can buffer them from life stressors and challenges throughout their lives. Data in Maine highlights that almost half of youth feel they do not matter to their community and an overwhelming number suffer with anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness.

“Through my current work as a youth engagement coordinator, I see how strained, burnt out, stressed, and overwhelmed young people in our community are. I have had lengthy conversations with both young people and youth-serving adults, and the demand for mental health resources and support is at an all-time high. I look forward to working collaboratively with youth and adult stakeholders on strategic initiatives targeting this cause and implementing evidence-based programs across Greater Franklin County.” – Jason Labbe, Healthy Community Coalition

As part of the youth mattering program staff will:

• Create an advisory committee with key stakeholders to help inform and implement the work.
• Hire a part time youth community health worker who will assist with program development and implementation.
• Develop and implement an education program and wellbeing guide for adults and community members working with youth on recognizing signs/symptoms of a mental health challenge
• Partner with county organizations to provide health and wellness opportunities for all youth, particularly at-risk youth, and caregivers.
• Pilot a youth wellness program at RSU 9 and RSU 73 that encourages overall wellbeing and makes the connection between overall health and its impact on mental health
• Contract with the Maine Resilience Building Network to host community town hall meetings about youth mattering and to provide training to teachers, coaches, businesses, parents etc.
• Partner with School Resource Officers, Teachers, and Jobs for Maine Graduates on engaging/talking with at risk youth, to learn more about their needs and how they can connect to resources.

For more information about United Way visit 218 Fairbanks Road in Farmington, visit the website: www.uwtva.org. To be kept updated on this event and others, be sure to follow United Way on Facebook (www.facebook.com/uwtva) and Instagram.

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