We learn life’s lessons one moment at a time and learn to live in the moment, one moment at a time.
Covid has certainly taught us many things, including the need to be mentally and emotionally agile as unexpected change and uncertainty became the normative driving factors in our lives.
This will be my last column for Youth Health Connection, serving as Medical Director.
I will be continuing my clinical private practice, while also fulfilling my role as a Board Member with the South Shore Health Foundation Board and continuing with the SSHS Colleague Well Being initiative. My writing will also continue and can be accessed on my website: www.bjgreenphd.com.
I have been given the remarkable privilege to have had the opportunity to create a community based program designed to reduce risk and increase resiliency for youth and communities. For 28 years, YHC has worked hard to build a collaborative framework, embracing communication, upstream prevention and education for both mental health and physical health well being. My good friend and colleague, Dr. Ned Hallowell, has remarked that programs like YHC do not typically have enduring legacy of 28 years. We have achieved that mark through your shared commitment and fervent belief in the mission. Each of you have played a powerful role, giving your time, doing the right thing for our youth and our communities.
I believe in the utmost importance and power of reducing stigma around mental health and mental illness, increasing open dialog and conversation, insuring early identification of signs of mental health challenges and allowing all to have immediate access to care. It is only though these steps that we can create a world that recognizes that “All health is mental health”, to quote my dear friend and colleague, Antony Sheehan, CEO of Aspire Health Alliance.
Youth Health Connection has been recognized at the State level and has formed partnerships with nationally recognized partners: “Our Minds Matter” and “Calm Classroom”. “How Not To Keep A Secret” is listed in the national registry for Suicide Prevention, using the “Break Free From Depression’ as part of the project. South Shore FACTS: Families, Adolescents, Communities Against Substances has served as a regional consultant for communities building coalitions that are individually community based and responsive. Many of those coalitions have received Drug Free Communities grants which has allowed them to become sustaining. “Hidden in Plain Sight” and “Weeding Through the Myths” have provided educational opportunities with science and facts, encouraging dialog between parents and teens. We know that connection and conversation are the number one anti risk factors for teens. We have been there for communities as they navigated crises and traumas. When Covid hit, we pivoted to an electronic platform for delivery for our programs, most importantly utilizing our newsletter powerfully.
It is rare to have had the platform to write a column, sharing research and my views for all these years. I deeply appreciate the feedback and comments you have taken the time to share with me.
YHC will continue, albeit in a different format. The work is not done, as we know that our youth and communities are experiencing the most challenging times with mental health in decades. Suicide rates remain stubbornly high and access to treatment, both inpatient and outpatient, is at near crisis levels.
I want to thank South Shore Health for allowing YHC to exist and therefore meet a need for youth and communities. It makes a powerful statement that SSH was the hospital committed to doing the right thing recognizing Suicide as a public health issue even before the US Surgeon General did so. Bringing together both the Norfolk and Plymouth County District Attorneys underscored that Mental Health is not a political issue, but rather is one that we all must address together.
I have been dedicated to this work since early adulthood, college and then graduate school. Having been able to bring together my clinical practice, with community based prevention work and research, allowed me to persevere in driving forward the goal of saving lives and helping individuals and communities live with health and well being.
The work does not end. Endings are also new beginnings. We must double down and continue the collaboration to insure the mission continues, that stigma ends, that open dialog, education and prevention continue, that early identification and access to care is guaranteed.
Thank you to every one of you who has been present “at the table”. I am humbled by your steadfast presence and positive energy. You are my heroes working passionately to insure all receive the care they deserve. As I often say, “We are all in this together”.
I will forever be grateful for the opportunity given to me to do the work and pursue the mission of Youth Health Connection.