Your Voice is Your Power

high school students: the time is now. let’s get to work!

your voice is your power stacked logo

Calling on mental health advocates to help establish a school culture of caring and support, especially for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students nationwide.

Over the last decade there has been a rise in mental health issues among youth and young adults. This rise has been even more pronounced among Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ+ young adults.

BIPOC youth are more likely to be impacted by the pandemic, police violence, and longstanding racial discrimination. Similarly, LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to experience discrimination, a lack of social support, and limited access to appropriate health care, all of which impact mental health. Experts predict that mental health challenges will continue to rise.

 

Right now, we can – and must – prioritize the wellbeing of all students, specifically BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students.

Active Minds is calling on high school mental health advocates to help establish a school culture of caring and support for all students. Through Your Voice is Your Power, students can organize a coalition in your school or start an Active Minds Chapter by using the self-guided resources below.

Organize a Your Voice is Your Power coalition at your school.

You are ready to advocate for mental health awareness in your school. This worksheet will help your research what already exists in your school and what you may need to advocate for.

You now know what you are going to advocate for. This worksheet will help you find your voice and develop a plan for how to grow your school’s mental health resources and if there are any people in your school you should talk to about their advocacy efforts in your school.

Having people working with you to advocate for more mental health awareness in your school is very important to your success. This guide provides you with the steps you will need to build a coalition, the people you should include, planning for your first meeting, setting goals, and your next steps in advocating for more mental health awareness in your school.

As you become a mental health advocate in your school, it is important to manage your time, set boundaries, and take care of yourself. It is also important for the people in your coalition to also practice self-care so that you all can ensure your collective success. This worksheet will help you reflect on your self-care plan.

Advocate for investment in telehealth, drop-in counseling, and support groups.

One of the positive outcomes of the pandemic has been that students are now gaining the opportunity to experiment with technology to support their mental health. In particular, Black, Latinx and Asian American students tend to appreciate services that make it easier to get help and increase their access to culturally responsive care.

Schools can support students by investing in telehealth, drop-in counseling, and virtual support groups.

In the Counseling Center

Your Counseling/Health Services Director(s) and/or Dean of Students.

Ask your Counseling Center Director and/or Dean of Students if any of these services will be offered this fall. If not, gather student leadership to partner with you (i.e. student government, RAs, student organizations, multicultural organizations and offices, etc.), and together, ask for a meeting to learn more and to discuss why this change is important to you.

Your Voice is Your Power

Ask educators to share mental health resources with their classes.

BIPOC students are at an increased risk for COVID-19 infection and for elevated stress and anxiety. They are also less likely to have a strong sense of belonging on their campuses, especially at predominantly white institutions. Particularly within hybrid or full remote learning models, students are dependent on faculty members as mental health first responders and as key facilitators of their sense of belonging and connection to the university.

Students share that faculty can demonstrate that they value students’ well-being by sharing mental health resources on course syllabi, in discussion, in their signature lines, and/or on their web platforms.

In the Classroom

Your professors, department heads/chairs, deans, and your Provost/VP of Academic Affairs.

Share Active Minds’ Faculty Guide (including a sample syllabi statement) with your professors and ask them to consider adding mental health resources to their course syllabi, signature line, and/or web platforms. Then, gather student leadership to partner with you (i.e. student government, RAs, student organizations, etc.) and gather letters of support from appropriate offices/departments (i.e. Counseling Center, Equity/Inclusion Office, Multicultural Center, etc.). Ask for a meeting with department heads/chairs, deans, and your Provost/VP of Academic Affairs to discuss why it’s important for faculty to share mental health resources with students.

Your Voice is Your Power

Advocate for cultural competency training for faculty and staff.

Cultural competency increases opportunities for faculty and staff to build meaningful relationships and trust with students of diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds. It also reduces risk for misunderstandings, microaggressions, and bias – all things that negatively impact students’ academic and mental health experiences.

Schools can support students by offering cultural competency training for faculty and staff.

In Conversation

Department heads/chairs, deans, and your Provost/VP of Academic Affairs

First, ask the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion office if this is already provided on your campus. If not, gather student leadership to partner with you (i.e. student government, RAs, student organizations, etc.) and gather letters of support from appropriate offices/departments (i.e. Counseling Center, Equity/Inclusion Office, Multicultural Center, etc.). Ask for a meeting with department heads/chairs, deans, and your Provost to discuss why it’s important for all faculty and staff to participate in cultural competency training.

The following resources will help you make the case by gathering other campus partners, data, and student stories ahead of your meeting:

Active Minds’ COVID-19 Recommendations
Transform Your Campus advocacy guide
The Steve Fund & JED Foundation’s Equity in Mental Health Framework

Your Voice is Your Power

Advocate for mental health and equity or inclusion language in your institution’s strategic plan.

Including equity and mental health in an institution’s strategic plan is important because it provides accountability to the entire campus community for prioritizing the wellbeing of BIPOC students and measuring progress over time. Building a healthy campus community requires a comprehensive, strategic approach that ties mental health and equity and inclusion with the mission and values of the university and engages a multidisciplinary network of stakeholders from all levels of the institution.

Schools can bolster the mental health culture on campus by incorporating both mental health and equity and inclusion language in their strategic plan.

In the Strategic Plan

Ultimately, the Provost and/or University President are typically the decision-makers you will need to engage. Depending on the size and nature of your campus, you may be able to schedule a meeting with them directly through their assistants or you may need to first approach the Dean of Students or Vice-Provost.

Locate your university’s strategic plan. If it’s not available online, contact your Counseling Center Director or Dean of Students and ask if they can help you locate it. Search for keywords related to mental health, such as: “wellbeing” and “wellness,” and keywords related to inclusion, such as “diversity” and “equity.” If the plan is missing an emphasis on either concept, gather student leaders to partner with you (i.e. student government, RAs, student organizations, etc.) and gather letters of support from appropriate offices/departments (i.e. Counseling Center, Equity/Inclusion Office, Multicultural Center, etc.). Ask for a meeting with your Provost and/or President to discuss why it’s important for your university to be held accountable to the values of mental health and inclusion via the strategic plan.

Your Voice is Your Power Shirt

wear it loud and proud!

Our new Your Voice is Your Power shirt is inspiring, eye-catching, and sure to be a conversation starter. Available in two color options.

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report & win!

ALL participating students, chapters, and advocates get the honor and benefit of leaving a lasting legacy on their campuses that will support not only current students, but future generations to come.

Additionally, Active Minds Chapters that report about their participation in this challenge in the Fall Chapter Inventory (Nov. 16) will be eligible to win FREE swag and mental health resources for your campus, plus major shout-outs on Active Minds’ social media platforms.

need support?

take advantage of the national active minds network!

An emotionally healthy world is not possible without a just world.