Tackling the Youth Mental Health Crisis

Published On: December 21, 2021Categories: NewsBy

As we near the end of 2021, we recognize that our nation’s youth are experiencing an unprecedented mental health crisis.  Recent research suggests that nationwide, depressive and anxiety symptoms in our nation’s youth doubled during the pandemic.  Even more troubling: suicide attempts were 51% higher for adolescent girls in early 2021 compared to the same time period in 2019.

Join us in combatting this crisis by building resiliency in the children of the Fallen.  We are committed to enrolling 400 children by year’s end.  Your donations now will ensure that we are set to support 400 children in 2022 with mentored, extracurricular activities, peer support, case management and more. For those who have given in 2021, we thank you.  It is because of YOU that we can serve so many.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has issued a warning about the mental health of young people. According to a recent study, pre-pandemic trends were already rather dire.  According to the study highlighted in his recent advisory, one in three high school students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, a 40% increase from 2009 to 2019.  Additionally, suicide rates went up during that time by 57% among youth ages 10 to 24.  Then came the pandemic.  School closures, access to resiliency building extracurricular activities were shut down and the roller coaster of unknown was introduced.

At the very beginning of the pandemic, Angels immediately pivoted, reaching out to Angel Families and their mentors to find creative ways to keep the Angel Youth engaged in their resiliency building activities.  These Angels already lost one parent and are high risk for dropping out of school, turning to drugs and alcohol and committing suicide (especially if their parent committed suicide).

While businesses were shuttered and nonprofits were struggling, the Angel Team and mentors recommitted to find solutions to keep the Angel Youth engaged.  For some community partners, Angels was their sole source of income in the 6 weeks that followed.  Angel youth began stepping up to mentor one another (one Angel even began teaching hula lessons on FB to her peers), the Angel mentors got creative and began tinkering with technology and meeting virtually with youth in one to one sessions, a focus group to assess mental health gaps was conducted with a group of Angel widows and, most importantly, YOU, the community stepped up in a big way to continue supporting children of the Fallen.

The result?  More Angel Youth were served than ever before and the Angel Youth (amidst nationwide shutdowns) engaged in more activity sessions than ever before.  The Angels still struggled, as did youth across the nation, and some shifted to new activities that they had never tried before.  The Angel program definitely saw a shift from group sports that were cancelled to more individual type activities such as music, the arts and an increase in individualized coaching sessions.  The Angel Program is unique in that it already pivots with the Angel Youth’s interests.  The program was nimble and the Angel supporters are as committed as the Angel team is!

Now, looking into 2022, we know that there is a widespread mental health crisis among our nation’s youth, only solidified by last week’s Surgeon General’s announcement.  Because of you, our Angel supporters and Community Partners, we made an audacious goal to increase our capacity moving into 2022.  We have committed to find the resources to support 400 Angel Youth in 2022, up from 325 the year prior.  We are SO close to that goal, but invite you to join us to ensure that we are meeting the long-term commitment that we make to every Angel Youth that comes into the program:  that we will walk alongside them from  the time of loss until they reach adulthood.  That we will support them in resiliency building activities to anchor them closer to their community, decreasing the likelihood of dropping out of school, giving them healthy alternatives to drugs and alcohol and building resiliency to decrease the risk of suicide.

We invite you to join us in this commitment by making a year-end donation that is impactful to you or making a small monthly contribution going into 2022.  Because of you, we can serve even more!

As of the morning of December 21, we only needed $30,000 to make this goal happen.  We have full faith that once again, our community partners will step up to the challenge.  Check on the goal’s progress here:  https://aoafallen.salsalabs.org/2021holiday, where you can also make a donation.

For more information about Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy’s advisory:  “Protecting Youth Mental Health,”

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the Angel Program or if you want to get involved more!

From the Angel Team & Angel Families, Happy Holidays!

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