About the Problem
Society is still largely unaware of the scale of mental health problems currently affecting the youth in America. While there has been attention to the issue,there has not been a coordinated effort to make lasting changes.
How did you identify this problem?
The Outlet has identified the problem of mental health through a survey, research, and personal experiences. In particular, our group realized that we had all felt as though the primary education system did not do enough to help us personally, so we decided to be the change we wanted to see.
Who are those affected by this problem?
While anyone can experience mental health problems, our group is focusing on youth and young adults who are particularly vulnerable. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 49.5% of adolescents may have a mental health disorder.
How often does this problem occur?
Mental health is a problem that occurs constantly. As students and young adults face compounding struggles, mental health problems have become prominent.
How long has the problem been going on?
Mental health problems have always been an ongoing issue, but has recently become a bigger problem since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. We also believe that other developing trends, like social media usage are linked to youth mental health problems.
Is the problem disrupting the community? How?
Mental health is indeed disrupting the community. Mental health problems can disrupt a student’s life, prevent them from contributing to the community, and may put themselves and others in harm.
Is the issue perceived as a problem by the community at large?
This issue is perceived as a problem because it is affecting teens who are soon to be adults. According to a 2022 NBC article by Erika Edwards, the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force said that pediatricians should start screening children for anxiety as early as age 8. This demonstrates the prevalence of worry about mental health issues in our youth, and reinforces why we believe we need new approaches to the problem.
Is the problem limited to certain geographic areas?
The issue of mental health isn’t seen in a certain geographic area as all class levels, societies, cultures, and environments face this serious issue.
Who are the Stakeholders, those wanting this problem to be fixed?
Our primary concern is for the students who are at risk of mental health issues going untreated. However, many others are at stake to rising mental health issues, such as parents, teachers, community leaders, and society.
Addressing the Problem
Are you aware of any solutions, approaches, or efforts to tackle this problem?
The Outlet is aware of solutions, approaches, and efforts to tackle this issue as we are currently working with CSU Stanislaus Learning service. The learning service is an after school program that connects with the community providing fun classroom learning activities.
What are the obstacles you are aware of to address the problem?
We believe that compounding issues that affect students cause and sustain the problem. For example, student workload that causes stress and anxiety cannot be effectively reduced from our position. Similarly, problematic circumstances at home that harm students are serious and cannot be appropriately dealt with by ourselves.
What are the success criteria that could be defined to address this problem?
The Outlet wants to create an environment where no one is judged and is comfortable enough to trust an adult to start a conversation.
The Outlet, Where Connections Happen
Our solution to this issue is to create a peer mentor/afterschool program with a supervised 24/7 online reachout system with professionals. We propose in Spring 2023 semester to pilot an after school mentorship program at our local university CSU Stanislaus State campus. If awarded, the 10K challenge prize will be used for the following: creating and sustaining a website to act as both a hotline and resource hub for students and young adults, connecting and working with other organizations to raise awareness and promote long-term solutions, and team-based efforts to provide online or after school events for students to partake in.
Are there any similar initiatives solving the same problem your team is trying to address and how is your solution different from what already exists?
Many organizations have intended to provide outlets to students for them to discuss and work through mental health issues. The Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, for example, helps provide personal mentorship to students. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is known to work with high schools.
Who will benefit from your solution?
The biggest benefit is for students. We believe that it is important for students to have a chance to relax, have social interactions to foster connectivity, and have guidance towards dedicated mental health resources. By doing this, we also believe that we can make cascading impacts to schools, homes, and the future.
How far along are you with your solution (Idea, Vision, Implementation Plan, Etc.)
We have secured a small amount of funding to conduct small scale research and plan out future activities. We are currently looking into ways to receive training and authorization so that we can begin partnering CSU Stanislaus learning service program. Our solution, which requires dedication from our group, also requires funding so that we can begin outreaching and networking.
Other Solution Comments / Notes
MJC Student also Involved:
Contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Survey Results/ Sources: