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Helping Youth Manage a National Emergency

Lidia Harding
Blog For parents Giving Success Stories
youth mental health a national emergency

Youth mental health declared a national emergency

Even before the COVID pandemic, children and youth were already experiencing concerning levels of mental health challenges. Unfortunately, the grief, fear, anxiety, isolation, and challenging family dynamics that children and youth experienced during the pandemic has made the situation even more critical. This is represented well by a 15-year-old Tesla STEM High School student.

“Over the course of the pandemic, my mental health declined as I was isolated a lot and didn’t have any social interactions with people. In a way, it was almost like I was trapped and just doing the same things over and over again.”

As a result of this mental health crisis, a coalition of leading pediatric health organizations declared a national state of emergency in children’s mental health, last week.

Thanks to the generosity of YES donors, despite these challenges, children, youth, and their families in East King County have access to mental health and substance use treatment services, regardless of their ability to pay. Through direct services at YES’ three office locations, licensed mental health counselors within 35 schools, and community-wide education and prevention programs, youth have a chance at recovering from the impact of the pandemic.

Providing research-proven therapies

YES is the only East King County, youth-serving, behavioral health agency that provides a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Program to all clients, regardless of their ability to pay. This fall, your support is giving youth who are struggling with critical challenges such as self-harming behaviors and suicidal ideation, the opportunity to be part of our 16-week DBT Program. This program consists of a combination of intensive individual 1-to-1 counseling and a weekly skills group where youth acquire skills to reduce suicidality and self-harm through the management of their highly distressful emotions.

Providing support for marginalized students

YES continues, and has expanded our support, to our Latinx community through our Latino H.E.A.T., Latinos Unidos, and Mamas Unidos programs. New this school year, YES is also partnering with Juanita High School’s African-American Student Advocacy Program (AASAP), in response to our community’s need for more support of BIPOC youth. With the addition of YES Equity and Engagement Specialist Marlon Shelton, the partnership brings professional-level support into a school environment not only providing students with social and emotional support but also with education and employment support and college readiness support, all while creating a welcoming and safe environment.

Providing a space for youth to be heard

YES is excited to announce the growth of our Youth Advisory Council (YAC)! This group, made up of youth ages 14 – 19 in East King County, provides YES with direct input about the changing needs of youth in our community and their day-to-day challenges.  In the future, the council plans to share their experiences and thoughts in a virtual community panel and address the pandemic, youth mental health trends, the experience of both cultural and other forms inequities, school stressors and discuss how adults can best support their social and emotional needs.

Thanks for your support of youth

During this difficult time, thanks to our generous community we are ensuring that children, youth, and families struggling with mental health and substance use challenges receive evidence-based services and treatment, regardless of their ability to pay.

“It is with our deepest and sincerest gratitude that we thank you, our donors, who have held strong with us during these continued stressed times AND extend this appreciation to those of you who are new to YES as supporters. The pandemic has clearly highlighted the crisis of child and youth mental health and it is through the support of our community that we have not just sustained but have been able to thrive amidst challenge, and that is because of you, our community, our supporters.” – David W. Downing, YES CEO


You too can be a lifeline in a young person’s life today by making a gift and helping youth recover from the impact of the pandemic! Whether you donate $5 or $500, every gift will make a difference in the life of a child or youth seeking hope and recovery.

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