We are finishing the 2020-2021 academic year. With the availability of vaccinations, gratefully, we have been able to provide a more normal experience of Senior Year celebrations. Children, teens, teachers and parents are pushing through to the end of this year. What I am hearing repeatedly is gratitude and relief. It has been an extraordinary challenge to navigate all that we have had to confront with the unpredictability of the pandemic. Educators and parents alike were constantly pivoting to provide optimal learning environments for youth, from remote to classroom experiences this Spring.

Unfortunately the pandemic has had an enormous impact on life: socially, physically, and emotionally. The most recent data from the CDC indicates an alarming uptick in suspected suicidal attempts for teen girls during the pandemic, with a 51% increase for the period February to March 2021. While there has been a reported increase for teen boys as well, the data represents what is consistent with adolescent girls demonstrating higher suicidal ideation and risk.

Youth Health Connection is taking a lead, in collaboration with our YHC Advisory Board, in preparing to help communities address Adverse Childhood Experiences, ACE’s, as a result of the emotional impact of Covid. There is a powerful correlation between the more ACE’s experienced and the greater chance of poor outcomes later in life. “Toxic Stress” is the term used to describe the impact from ACE’s. We know that we can work to mitigate the effects of ACE’s and toxic stress by developing a comprehensive social and emotional approach. YHC is dedicated to providing prevention based programs for schools including “Our Minds Matter”, “Calm Classroom”, “Mental Health First Aid” trainings.

We are committed to addressing the impact of what we have endured while providing a road map forward. By collaborating and sharing resources we can increase our resources and help all communities find strength in being united.