Oregon School-Based Health Alliance

07/03/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/03/2019 10:41

YAC and YouthLine: The Importance of Integrating Mental Health and Wellness in YAC’s to Progressively Advocate for Healthy Lifestyles

This blog post is by Trace Terrell, a member of La Pine High School Youth Action Council

Hello everybody! My name is Trace Terrell, im 15, and I am involved with YouthLine: a free, confidential, teen-to-teen crisis help support hotline for teens, and in my schools YAC (Youth Action Council). This blog post represents my personal views, not those of the YAC or YouthLine.

Being a part of these two organizations has, dare I say it, changed my life for the better. These organizations have made me a vocal and avid advocate for mental health and wellness in schools, and an advocate for living healthy lifestyles.

In YAC, I have been able to take on service-learning projects to better my school, community, and more, while in YouthLine, I have had the opportunity to teach classrooms, public events and more on the importance of mental health and wellness.

Luckily, I have had the chance to be a part of both of these organizations throughout the school year, and I have noticed how being a part of one, in my opinion, strengthens my abilities in the other and vice-versa. While these two organizations are vastly different, I believe that they share some common similarities between their ultimate goals, which is promoting healthy lifestyles, especially among teens.

Once I had noticed these similarities, I realized that I could integrate and connect both organizations in some way to achieve the healthy lifestyle goal, which in my opinion is heavily dependent on good mental health and wellness.

For example, in YAC, I have been able to use my history and knowledge on mental health from YouthLine to create some ideas on projects we could potentially do. One project my schools YAC was involved with was essentially pieces of paper, created by the Family Resource Center, that had questions such as 'What motivates you and why?' and 'What makes you get up in the morning?'.

Our schools YAC had worked closely with a member of the Family Resource Center to do this activity in our towmentans middle school. I feel like I was able to aid in this project because it was closely connected with mental health and wellness.

I have also worked with my schools YAC and my schools staff members to hopefully do YouthLine Outreach lessons in my school. These lessons cover a variety of things, such as bullying prevention, stress and suicide, and suicide prevention. In my opinion, not enough people talk about mental health and wellness in our culture and society, when in reality, it is one of the biggest indicators of long-term healthy lifestyles.

I feel like my involvement in both of these organizations has once again strengthened them both. I have worked very hard to advocate for mental health and wellness in my YAC because I feel like it is often overlooked in most YAC's. I have also worked with YouthLine to connect them to schools and YAC's alike because teen groups and voices are especially important.

In the future, I hope to continue to combine and integrate parts of both organizations to more effectively advocate for healthy lifestyles. In addition, I have worked on some ways independently to make my schools YAC more geared towards mental health and wellness projects and make it a resource center for both physical and mental health.

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