Youth Recommendations for Their Mental Health

The ultimate goal behind our recommendations is to include young people in deciding how to make sure they become happy, self-sufficient adults who contribute to society in California.

PREVENTION: How can the education, foster care and juvenile justice systems can be improved to support young people’s own efforts to maintain their mental health?

1. Long-term Relationships with Adults
Young people value long-term relationships with adults who are available on a consistent basis. Knowing an adult won’t give up or go away opens the door for communication.

2. Make Meds Make Sense
Young people should be given clear explanations of what their prescribed medication will do, including side effects, and how they will feel when they stop taking it.

3. Confidentiality
Make it clear up front what information will be held confidential and what cannot be held confidential so the young person can make a safe decision on what to share.

4. Culturally positive environments
Young people are often asked to learn, and to heal, in institutional environments. Allow young people to design and affect their environments – from choosing to meet their therapist at a donut shop to choosing pictures for the walls  – will open them to positive adult relationships.

5. Youth Voice
Young people should be considered experts on what they’ve experienced and what they need.

INTERVENTION. What kind of intervention changes the mentality of young people who have experienced trauma, so they don’t repeat the abuse and self-abuse they learned as coping tools?

1. Cultivate Personal Interests
Using mental health funds and time to help a young person access music, art, sports, dance or other activities can build self-esteem that has a life of its own beyond therapy.

2. Fix the Situation, Not Just the Kid
Many young people need help finding jobs, apartments, or help with school. Adults who find practical solutions can gain the young person’s trust in the healing process.

3. Good Information
Young people make great decisions when they have accurate information they trust.

4. Avoid Labels and Stigma
Labels, like depressed, and even the words “therapy” and “mental health” carry a stigma that can turn young people off.

5. Role models
Young people often respond positively to peers and adult mentors who have “been there” and can both relate to their struggles as well as model successful life changes.

For more information contact:

Patricia Johnson