Healthy Teen Minds

Healthy Teen Minds is an eight-year initiative to improve the mental health of teens in our tri-county region – Outagamie, Calumet and Winnebago counties. The work is funded by a $1.2 million grant from the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin (AHW) Endowment at the Medical College of Wisconsin. The funding is part of AHW’s initiative focused on improving community behavioral health.

The goal of the project is to reduce the rate of depression among teens by implementing population-level strategies that focus on prevention, promoting resiliency and coping skills among youth, and interventions for struggling teens.

During the 2017-2018 school year, Healthy Teen Minds partnered with six local high schools to adopt “Sources of Strength,” an evidence-based suicide prevention and comprehensive wellness program that builds resiliency in teens by fostering positive peer relationships and connections to trusted adults. Working closely with the Neenah, Oshkosh, and Appleton school districts, our grant provided funding support for training of teachers and students in this SAMHSA-endorsed program.

Each year, we will roll out this program in additional districts while continuing to provide support to the districts that have already adopted Source of Strength. At least four additional high schools will be adopting Sources of Strength in the coming school year.

Other strategies include adopting social-emotional learning in elementary and middle schools, supporting and expanding school-based mental health initiatives, and a teen sleep campaign to raise awareness about the importance of adolescent sleep. An early success of the project is the launch of MyConnectionNEW.org, a new mental health service navigation website that includes a complete listing of all mental health and substance use services and supports in the region, making it easier for tri-county residents to connect to services.

In the coming years of implementation, we will be working on strategies that will touch vast numbers of children and youth in the tri-county area. Our strategies include screening for mental illness, social-emotional learning, connecting to services, and increasing social connectedness.

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