Our ACT youth resiliency collaboration continues to expand through new multi-sector partners and program referrals to help youth advance toward college, careers, and civic life.
A robust community partnership is changing the lives of Anaheim youth and charting a course for its next generation of leaders. Accelerate Change Together (ACT) Anaheim is a collaboration among business, community and nonprofit leaders addressing gaps in services for at-risk youth. ACT Anaheim has a long history of serving youth collaboratively. https://www.oc-cf.org/change-your-community-overview/act-anaheim/
- Mental resiliency to help youth cope with current/future challenges
- College and Career pathways and opportunities within Anaheim’s workforce
- Civic life and leadership led through youth voice and advocacy
Addressing the Youth Mental Health Crisis
For over 30 years, the Anaheim Community Foundation (ACF) has functioned to strengthen community-based organizations to address community needs and coordinate collaborative approaches between the City, CBOs and business to address community needs. For the past two years, ACF has overseen the ACT (Accelerating Change Together) collaborative, a collection of CBOs serving youth in Anaheim. This collective was originally formed eight years ago to address a critical lack of youth services in the City of Anaheim, particularly within the Anaheim Union High School District. This collaborative has been highly effective at expanding services in Anaheim but more work needs to be done to address the impact of Covid-19 to expand preventative mental health programming among ACT partners at Anaheim schools.
ACF’s stewardship of the ACT collaboration has focused on bringing in additional key partners to work closely with CBO’s, including closer coordination with the Anaheim school districts, the City of Anaheim and the business community. For this particular project, ACF’s ACT collaborative would work with the Anaheim Union High School District to provide 500 additional youth with a full spectrum of services offered by CBO’s to youth impacted by the mental health crisis and new resources for an additional 5,000 students.
According to the CDC, mental health-related emergency department visits for adolescents (12-17) have increased 31% compared with before the pandemic (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7024e1.htm). In its recent report on the impact of Covid-19 on youth mental health, The National Institute of Health reports that the loss of access to structured school and work environments, exposure to higher levels of domestic violence, and the higher rates of reported loneliness all have an impact that disproportionately affects low income youth of color. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7520633/). The NIH also highlights protective factors to mitigate the impact of Covid-19: access to supportive adults, additional school support services and increased access to mental health supports. Expanded preventative support for youth before they need intensive outpatient programs and inpatient hospitalization is critical to the long-term success of youth in Anaheim.
ACF and the ACT collaborative are working together to address mental health by utilizing the CDC’s recommended multi-faceted approach to addressing trauma and ACE’s for youth (“Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences: Leveraging the Best Available Evidence.”). In Anaheim, no other collection of community-based organizations are positioned to provide the full spectrum of trauma prevention and intervention strategies highlighted in the technical support highlighted by the CDC for youth. ACT collaborative partners will expand existing services in the 2022-2023 academic year while also committing to monthly referral meetings with the school district to connect youth to more services that mitigate the impact of trauma on mental health.