Mental Health

National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS)

The National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) began in 1994 and is a coalition of national organizations, business leaders, and federal agencies focused on youth engagement and the promotion of health and safety for youth.

Key components that support the structure of NOYS include the following

  • Board of directors
  • Meetings and communication
  • Working groups

The collaboration’s best practices include

Youth M.O.V.E. National: Making a Difference through Youth-Adult Partnerships

Youth Motivating Others through Voices of Experience (M.O.V.E.) National is a youth and young-adult led national advocacy organization that wants to change the world. The organization is devoted to improving services and systems that support young people. They focus on empowering young people to partner with adults to create meaningful change in mental health, juvenile justice, education, and child welfare systems. The organization represents 77 chapters, consisting of 9,000 members across 39 states.

Youth M.O.V.E. National: Making a Difference through Youth-Adult Partnerships

Youth Motivating Others through Voices of Experience (M.O.V.E.) National is a youth and young-adult led national advocacy organization that wants to change the world. The organization is devoted to improving services and systems that support young people. They focus on empowering young people to partner with adults to create meaningful change in mental health, juvenile justice, education, and child welfare systems. The organization represents 77 chapters, consisting of 9,000 members across 39 states.

Suicide Prevention

Developmentally, the years between childhood and adulthood represent a critical period of transition and significant cognitive, mental, emotional, and social change. While adolescence is a time of tremendous growth and potential, navigating new milestones in preparation for adult roles involving education, employment, relationships, and living circumstances can be difficult. These transitions can lead to various mental health challenges that can be associated with increased risk for suicide.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth age 15-24.1 Approximately one out of every 15 high school students reports attempting suicide each year.2 One out of every 53 high school students reports having made a suicide attempt that was serious enough to be treated by a doctor or a nurse.3 For each suicide death among young people, there may be as many as 100 to 200 suicide attempts.4 For some groups of youth—including those who are involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender; American Indian/Alaska Native; and military service members—the incidence of suicidal behavior is even higher.5

Despite how common suicidal thoughts and attempts (as well as mental health disorders which can be associated with increased risk for suicide) are among youth, there is a great deal known about prevention as well as caring for youth and communities after an attempt or death. Parents, guardians, family members, friends, teachers, school administrators, coaches and extracurricular activity leaders, mentors, service providers, and many others can play a role in preventing suicide and supporting youth.

Key Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
hotlineThe National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. When you call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), you are connected to the nearest crisis center in a national network of more than 150 that provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals day and night. The Lifeline also provides informational materials, such as brochures, wallet cards, posters, and booklets. Prestamos servicios en español (1-888-628-9454). Translators speaking approximately 150 languages are available.

2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action (PDF, 184 pages) 
The National Strategy is a call to action from the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention to guide suicide prevention in the United States. The National Strategy includes 13 goals and 60 objectives that reflect advances in suicide prevention knowledge, research, and practice, as well as broader changes in society and health care delivery.

Resources and Information on Suicide from SAMHSA
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funds and supports the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. It manages the Garrett Lee Smith grant program, which funds State, Territorial, and Tribal programs to prevent suicide among youth. SAMHSA developed the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), which reviews evidence of effectiveness for prevention programs on topics related to behavioral health, including suicide. SAMHSA also sponsors prevention campaigns and provides resources.

Injury Prevention and Control: Suicide Resources from CDC
Resources, publications and articles on suicide, prevention, and risk from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including links to some statistical databases, including WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System), YRBSS (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System), National Violent Death Reporting System, and National Vital Statistics System.

Suicidal Thoughts and Attempts among U.S. High School Students: Trends and Associated Health-Risk Behaviors, 1991-2011
This article published in the Journal of Adolescent Health describes trends in suicidal thoughts and attempts and the types of associated health-risk behaviors among high school students.

Suicides — United States, 2005–2009
This report from the CDC provides data on suicide in the United States and differences in the characteristics of those who have died from suicide.

Suicide Information from the National Institute of Mental Health
Information on suicide prevention, treatment, and resources from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)—funded by SAMHSA—helps strengthen suicide prevention efforts of state, tribal, community, and campus organizations and coalitions as well as organizations that serve populations with high suicide rates. It provides technical assistance, training, resource materials and a newsletter, an online library, and customized information for professionals working to prevent suicide. SPRC also co-produces the Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention.

Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention
The Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention is funded by the CDC to promote a public health approach to suicide research and prevention. It conducts research, provides technical assistance, and organizes conference calls, webinars, and an annual Research Training Institute for those engaged in suicide-related research and working in the field of suicide prevention.

Youth Risk and Behavior Survey: Data Summary and Trends Report, 2007 - 2017

This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report provides data summary and trend information on varying topics, including mental health and suicide.

1 CDC, 2011
2 Eaton et al., 2010
3 Eaton et al., 2010
4 McIntosh, 2010
5 HHS, 2012

Mental Health

It is normal for children and youth to experience various types of emotional distress as they develop and mature. For example, it is common for children to experience anxiety about school, or youth to experience short periods of depression that are transient in nature. When symptoms persist, it may be time to seek professional assistance. While most youth are healthy, physically and emotionally, one in every four to five youth in the general population meet criteria for a lifetime mental disorder and as a result may face discrimination and negative attitudes.1 As with physical health, mental health is not merely the absence of disease or a mental health disorder. It includes emotional well-being, psychological well-being, social well-being2 and involves being able to

  • navigate successfully the complexities of life,
  • develop fulfilling relationships,
  • adapt to change,
  • utilize appropriate coping mechanisms to achieve well-being without discrimination.
  • realize their potential,
  • have their needs met, and
  • develop skills that help them navigate the different environments they inhabit.3

The presence or absence of various combinations of protective and risk factors contribute to the mental health of youth and efforts can be undertaken to promote positive mental health and prevent or minimize mental health problems. Youth with mental health disorders may face challenges in their homes, school, community, and interpersonal relationships. Despite these challenges, for most youth, mental health distress is episodic, not permanent, and most can successfully navigate the challenges that come from experiencing a mental health disorder with treatment, peer and professional supports and services, and a strong family and social support network. 

1 Merikangas, He, Burstein, et al., 2010
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2011; CDC, Health-Related Quality of Life, 2011
3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999; National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2004

Whatever It Takes

Whatever It Takes seeks to ensure that every child in Athens-Clarke County will graduate from a post-secondary education. We, along with our partners, will accomplish this through emphasizing early intervention, recognizing that parents are a child's first and most important teachers, focusing resources in a limited geographic area, identifying and training neighborhood leaders, setting high expectations for all children, creating a culture of success, and using data to direct to policy.

Youth Subcultures: Understanding Subgroups to Better Address Barriers to Learning & Improve Schools

Public health and education policy makers, practitioners, researchers, and educators need to know as much as they can about the factors that lead youth to manifest behaviors stemming from group defined values, beliefs, attitudes, and interests. Such understanding is basic to promoting healthy development, preventing problems, intervening as soon as problems arise, and enhancing intervention impact on severe and chronic problems.

Youth Gangs and Schools

Few schools escape dynamics and behaviors that are associated with gangs. Think, for example, about bullying, disruptive intergroup conflicts, drug sales and abuse, and vandalism such as theft, graffiti, and other forms of property damage. From both a policy and practice perspective, it is essential for schools to understand and address gang-related problems that interfere with productive schooling. Fortunately, there are many useful resources on the topic

Transitions from Adolescence

A Center-developed Clearinghouse with a variety of resources on adolescent transitioning. 

Tunnels & Cliffs: A Guide for Serving Youth with Mental Health Needs

This guide provides practical information and resources for youth service professionals and policymakers, from the program to the state level, with information to help them address system and policy obstacles in order to improve service delivery systems for youth with mental health needs. The guide provides the Guideposts for Success for Youth with Mental Health Needs which includes all the elements of the original Guideposts as well as additional specific needs relating to youth with mental health needs.