Campaign to provide tools and resources to help address the biggest contributors to youth mental health issues, which peak during school season
Alexandria, VA – Aug. 22, 2023 – Back-to-school is always a time met with mixed emotions, especially for the growing numbers of today’s youth who struggle with feelings of anxiety or depression. To help support parents, teachers, students, caregivers, and others, Mental Health America (MHA), in partnership with Walgreens, today launched a campaign and toolkit promoting mentally healthy practices for teens and adolescents, as well as a range of other resources.
The campaign comes in conjunction with the back-to-school season and to fill a gap in mental health awareness and resources in the school setting, as MHA Screening data shows youth (11-17) were more likely to take an anxiety screen and score more severely during the school year than in the summer months.
To help everyone better understand some of the key drivers of mental health concerns, including some of the negative impacts of social media, MHA released a new toolkit – Selfies, Social, & Screens: Navigating Virtual Spaces for Youth. The toolkit includes resources, fact sheets, and information regarding how online activity and virtual environments can impact mental health – such as customizing feeds or recognizing heavily edited pictures – and much more.
“Our youth are facing a world that many of us adults do not fully understand, and the increased pressures and anxieties that come from social media and being online can and will continue to have profound effects on the mental health of our youth,” said Schroeder Stribling, president and CEO of Mental Health America. “We don’t hand a bike to a child and expect them to know how to ride it. Why would we hand a child a phone without any guidance on how to be safe? This campaign, thanks to Walgreens, and ongoing work by Mental Health America aims to provide preventive tools to make sure our youth stay mentally healthy.”
There are growing concerns about the effects of social media on youth mental health. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory cited research that found that adolescents who spent more than three hours a day on social media faced double the risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes including symptoms of depression and anxiety. The advisory linked social media “direct pushes, unwanted content exchanges, and algorithmic designs” in addition to content that perpetuates “body dissatisfaction, disordered eating behaviors, social comparison, and low self-esteem” as examples of harms driving mental health concerns. Additionally, preliminary research from an MHA cyberbullying survey shows that over a quarter of youth reported that they are most negatively impacted by spending too much time being online or on their phones.
“At Walgreens, we’re focused on and committed to doing our part to help address the most pressing needs in health care today,” said Holly May, EVP and global chief human resources officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance. “We are proud to support MHA as a longstanding partner on this critically important work. And it’s our hope that by providing more tools and resources for teachers, administrators, parents, and others who play such an integral role during these pivotal years, it will be another step toward ensuring the health and well-being of our nation’s youth and the communities we serve.”
This campaign expands on MHA’s work to help youth and young adults navigate their mental health journey. Earlier this year, MHA released a new book, “Where to Start,” which provides easy-to-follow explanations of mental health concerns, tips on how to find help and care for yourself, and humorous illustrations by celebrated cartoonist Gemma Correll.
Walgreens has also made the resources of this campaign available to its network of 800+ schools through its Expressions by Walgreens program, which aims to educate, empower, and equip young people and their communities with insights and resources on issues impacting teens.
During the campaign, MHA will host webinars and release blogs on youth mental health in virtual spaces. Download the toolkit and find more about the campaign here.
About Mental Health America
Mental Health America is the nation’s leading community-driven nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health and well-being, resilience, recovery, and closing the mental health equity gap. Mental Health America’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of whole person health, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; and integrated care, services and supports for those who need them. Learn more at MHAnational.org.
Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) is included in the U.S. Retail Pharmacy and U.S. Healthcare segments of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA), an integrated healthcare, pharmacy and retail leader with a 170-year heritage of caring for communities. WBA’s purpose is to create more joyful lives through better health. Operating nearly 9,000 retail locations across America, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Walgreens is proud to be a neighborhood health destination serving nearly 10 million customers each day. Walgreens pharmacists play a critical role in the U.S. healthcare system by providing a wide range of pharmacy and healthcare services, including those that drive equitable access to care for the nation’s medically underserved populations. To best meet the needs of customers and patients, Walgreens offers a true omnichannel experience, with fully integrated physical and digital platforms supported by the latest technology to deliver high-quality products and services in communities nationwide.