Providence St. Mary launches youth suicide mental health initiative

Providence St. Mary launches youth suicide mental health initiative

‘Help is Here’ campaign focuses on preventing youth suicide and breaking stigma on mental illness

Providence St. Mary Medical Center is launching a new mental health initiative aimed at High Desert youth with the express goal of preventing suicides in the region.

The Help is Here campaign, launching this month, will connect youth to local resources and much-needed mental health services right here in the High Desert. The campaign hopes to break the stigma surrounding mental illness, particularly suicidal ideation.

“By understanding what students and families are requesting help for, we can customize our resources and engage students in their own voice,” said Kevin Mahany, director of community health investment for Providence St. Mary.

Help is Here will offer a multifaceted media campaign tailored specifically for — and by— local youth, using their feedback and data derived from local sources. The campaign will feature new ads, videos, interviews with local youth, and youth-led forums on mental health.

Mental health care for children in San Bernardino County has grown, but a sizable gap remains between those receiving help and those who still need it. Suicide remains the second leading cause of death for young teens in the U.S.

Help is Here hopes to help bridge that gap by changing the message around suicide and mental health care, giving High Desert youth the tools they need to thrive. Amidst an ongoing pandemic, these tools are more crucial than ever.

Mahany said Help is Here is working with community partners who are establishing programs precisely aimed at closing that gap, such as Care Solace, a 24/7 therapy referral service that follows up with students to see how successful therapy has been. Providence has also developed its own free school program, Work to be Well, that is student-led.

Care Solace joins a Hesperia-based therapy company called Life Skills Awareness, who are experts at helping youth experiencing suicidal ideations. Life Skills makes a point of following up with youth, serving as a coach to ensure the student and family get connected to effective therapy.

Help is Here will work with these programs to reach as many youths as possible and gather feedback from them to inform future efforts.

“We’re seeing local schools organize their students into advocates more,” Mahany said. “It’s exciting to have students flex their voice as to what they want and need in today’s world.”

Help is Here is working with several community leaders, such as the County Department of Behavioral Health, the County Superintendent of Schools, and the Hesperia Unified School District for a message that will truly resonate across the region.

“We want students to help drive how mental health is affecting them in today’s world,” Mahany said.

From wellness programs to leading-edge surgical techniques, Providence St. Mary has offered a wide range of medical services in the High Desert for more than 60 years. Our commitment to reliable, compassionate and safe care has made us a leader in medical excellence for the High Desert community.

To learn more about Help is here, please contact Paola Baker, project lead, at 760-265-3997 or email her at anapao913@gmail.com.

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