As we move toward the end of the academic year for students, parents and families, I am hearing frequent refrains of “It can’t come soon enough”! This year has certainly presented challenges most of us could never have imagined.

What we have learned is that mental health has become the second aspect of the Covid Pandemic, launching many in to a state of Mental Health Pandemic. The numbers of Americans, across developmental ages, describing elevated levels of stress, anxiety and depression depict a picture of struggles that previously were not being experienced with such intensity, severity and levels. Data show us that the number of calls for treatment and service far outnumber the ability of providers to provide care.

I want to bring a positive focus to the issue. I believe the open dialog is extremely positive and powerful. I am encouraged that the conversations are bringing a candor and honesty to the issues of stress, anxiety and depression. Both hopefully will empower all of us to truly eliminate the stigma around Mental Health issues.

We know that the prolonged uncertainty, profound sense of loss, extended isolation and shift in connections have all contributed. With vaccinations reaching more Americans, with schools returning to in school learning, with our ability to regain some of our previous normal routines, we are slowly stepping forward.

It is imperative that we culturally support early identification of Mental Health challenges, easy and timely access to treatment and services, and insure that those in need do not feel any stigma or shame.

Youth Health Connection is dedicated to supporting communities. We are working on developing a comprehensive selection of programs to assist schools as they work to address the various Mental Health issues students face. Mental Health First Aid, Our Minds Matter, Calm Classroom, South Shore FACTS are just a sampling. We are committed to making a difference and to being responsive.

In the words of Antony Sheehan, CEO of Aspire Health Alliance, “All Health Is Mental Health”. We are here to help.