October 19, 2023 -- The Mayor's Office of Education and Youth Engagement (MOEYE) is proud to announce the release of a groundbreaking resource, the "Youth Mental Health Guide," aimed at empowering youth aged 16-24 with the information they need to access mental health support and care. This initiative is part of the City of Houston’s ongoing commitment to prioritize the mental well-being of our city's young residents and break down the barriers to accessing essential mental health services.
“Youth are the future of our city, and it’s our responsibility to ensure they have the necessary tools and support to address their mental health needs,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “The Youth Mental Health Guide will not only help young people access vital services but also pave the way for open conversations about mental health, reducing stigma and fostering a healthier, more resilient Houston.”
Shining a light on the critical need for this guide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 20% of children with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders receive care from specialized mental health care providers. Additionally, the 2021 Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research identified mental health support as one of the top needs for HISD students, with recommendations to improve access by addressing cost and reducing social stigma.
The primary objectives of the Youth Mental Health Guide are as follows:
One unique aspect of this guide is the integral role played by Houston's youth in its development. They provided invaluable insights into what topics should be covered and how the information should be conveyed, ensuring the guide is accessible and relatable. Furthermore, the guide underwent rigorous review by community partners and mental health experts, including Mental Health America of Greater Houston, The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, and Houston OCD and Anxiety.
The guide is also a testament to the power of art as a means of expression and healing. It features captivating artwork sourced from the annual Youth Art Showcase, thoughtfully hosted by the Center for School Behavioral Health at Mental Health America of Greater Houston. By showcasing these artworks, the office aims to promote art as a healthy outlet for emotions and self-expression.
To promote this vital resource and raise awareness about youth mental health, the Office of Education and Youth Engagement has initiated a youth-led mental health communication campaign. This campaign features a series of social media posts created in collaboration with the City of Houston Youth Ambassadors, ensuring that the message resonates with young people.
This initiative aligns with the City's designation as the first Child Friendly City in the United States by UNICEF. Over a two-year process, led by the Office of Education and Youth Engagement, an action plan was developed that prioritizes mental health among young people. This initiative followed a comprehensive community and government assessment in which Houston's youth indicated low awareness of mental health care and difficulty navigating available resources for their mental health challenges.
A City of Houston Youth Ambassador emphasized the challenges faced by youth, saying, "It's hard to know where or how to get mental health services. At school, counselors are available (for both education and mental health purposes), but some of us don't feel comfortable talking to a stranger about those types of problems. This makes it even harder to find effective services."
For more information about the mental health trainings and how to get involved, please contact Mayor’s Office of Education Program Manager Laura Cuellar at email@example.com.
About the Mayor’s Office of Education and Youth Engagement
Public education is a human right, the great social equalizer, and a key to a prosperous community. Mayor Sylvester Turner believes that each generation of children should be assured a better life and education. Through collaboration, communication, and coordination, the Mayor’s Office of Education strives to ensure this goal for all families in Houston by promoting access to equitable education and opportunities.