Creating Community Solutions - Sacramento, CA

Conversation: 

Format: 

Single, day-long event

Number of Participants: 

350

What were the most important things you learned during the process of organizing the dialogue?: 

1.  The importance of reaching out to youth in ways that respond to their interests, i.e. social media.  We were successful in bringing 30% of the participants from the ages of 14-24.

2.  Being careful in outreach to service providers who quickly want to attend the meeting.  It is important to balance the participants in the room.

3.  Organizing good communication with the local newspapers, radio stations, and TV that will want to cover the event.

What did you identify as the key issues affecting mental health in your community and especially the mental health of your community’s young people?: 

Sacramento meeting participants engaged in an in-depth discussion of the key factors affecting mental health in the community. The following factors were identified and discussed:

  • Bullying
    • These experiences shape children at an early age
    • Technology is enabling bullying out of school (i.e. cyber-bullying)
  • Stigma
    • “Without overcoming stigma, the conversation will not happen at all”
  • Cultural Bias
    • Some communities do not trust medical and mental health service providers
    • There is a lack of culturally competent therapy providers
  • Substance Abuse
    • Lots of co-occurrence of these issues together
  • Criminal Justice
    • There aren’t enough mental health resources and support in the criminal justice system
    • “The system is set up to punish, not rehabilitate”
  • Poverty
    • “People don’t have the resources to get their needs met”
  • Homelessness
    • This is an increasing issue and these people often have no safe space available
  • Trauma and Toxic Stress
    • The root of many major mental illnesses
  • Foster care and child protective services
    • Lack of good support can lead children to seek the support of gangs and others
  • Mass media and social media
    • These shape the societal norms and impressions of mental health – can create or reduce stigma
  • Education of Public-facing Professionals
    • Increase awareness among police and other professionals on how to deal with mental health issues effectively and empathetically
  • Employment
    • More difficult to get a job when suffering from a mental illness
  • Language Barriers
    • Lack providers who speak the language of culturally diverse patients

What did you identify as the current strategies being used to address mental health challenges in your community? What are the challenges facing those strategies? : 

During the Sacramento meeting, this issue was focused on youth ages 12-17 and 18-24. Participants were asked which specific services were needed to effecitively address the needs of these youth populations. The following priorities were identified:

Services for youth ages 12-17

  • More peer support groups (e.g. buddy systems, school groups focused on mental health).
  • More positive developmental and vocational opportunities to help transition from school to the workforce.
  • More therapists in school.
  • Teach teachers on mental illness signs to look for.
  • More extracurricular activities (e.g. sports, creative writing, dance, arts)
  • Social media campaign to reduce the stigma around discussing mental health issues.

Services for youth ages 18-24

  • Career counseling, job placement, resume support, and financial planning.
  • Peer support
  • Mentoring programs
  • Access to internships to experience a professional work environment.
  • More entry-level job opportunities.

What actions did you identify that your community can pursue to improve mental health, especially among young people?: 

Sacramento meeting participants idenitifed the following action steps:

  • Include youth and diverse community based organizations in the planning of next steps
  • More forums for discussion of mental health
  • Identify additional funding sources for services and research
  • Increase awareness through celebrities, PSAs, and social media
  • Recruit community leaders, parents, and teachers to champion mental health

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your conversation?: 

There was great energy in the room and the day of the conversation.  We need to find ways for participants to stay involved in the National Dialogue on Mental Health

Groups: