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The courage to speak up: Stanford’s first Adolescent Mental Wellness Conference held

8272758921_df6a8055fe_oNearly 400 people— a mix of clinicians, teens, policy-makers and community members — gathered in South San Francisco recently to discuss local adolescent mental health needs.

Healthier, Happy Lives Blog covered the event, quoting the Adolescent Mental Wellness Conference co-chair Sherri Sager:

By bringing together all these various stakeholders, our goal was to break down the silos of physical and mental health and begin the important integration of the two as part of overall wellness... Then we can move further toward caring for the whole child, and thus reduce the stigma often attached to mental health.

One strategy discussed is based on the "headspace" model that has been adopted in Australia. It would offer confidential, low-cost physical and mental health care for adolescents, with the goal of intervening early. Early action is important to prevent the most devastating consequences of mental illness, incoming Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg told attendees. He addressed teens specifically: "If we’re going to really have success, your voice needs to be heard. If you have a story to tell and you’re willing to tell it, you could change public policy.”

That makes sense to Nicole Hong, a soon-to-be a senior at Gunn High School in Palo Alto who has had several peers die by suicide. "My hope is that this conference will help people have the courage to speak up before it's too late," she said. 

Previously: Adolescent mental health the focus of upcoming Stanford conferenceTurning loss into hope for others: New website teaches about mental health and Annual Mood Disorders Education Day links community with information — and hope
Image by Dee Ashley

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