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BIPOC & LGBTQIA2S+ Mental Health: What Helps, What Harms

“Dominator Culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; in our differences this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.”

Teaching Community Quotes by bell hooks, 2019

There are many factors that can impact a young person’s experiences with mental health— race, gender identity, (a)sexual/romantic orientation, socioeconomic status, kinfolk, immigration status, and disability status, to name a few. For young people impacted by youth-serving systems such as child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice, and education, prioritizing mental health can be even more challenging, especially while simultaneously experiencing discrimination within systems and society at large.

As peer support providers, we can and must take immediate steps to eliminate existing barriers and create opportunities that allow young people the autonomy and agency to take ownership of their mental health, as well as their journeys of healing. Youth MOVE National’s Youth MOVE Change Initiative (YMCI) has been committed to creating intentional space for LGBTQ2S+ and BIPOC young people to generate solutions to better support their communities. 

In July of 2021, YMCI began facilitating a series of focus group conversations with youth and young adults from across the United States utilizing the What Helps What Harms framework. A primary objective in the What Helps What Harms process is to utilize these conversations to produce a document with best practices to drive meaningful change. Each WHWH document is unique to its community. We consider this one of the greatest strengths of this initiative.

YMCI is excited to share two new WHWH tip sheets that have emerged from the series of focus groups with LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth/young adults. We invite you to explore these key takeaways and discuss them within your communities. Throughout the year, we will continue to share out key findings and best practices from the series.

For more information on YMCI & ongoing opportunities:
Youth MOVE National’s Youth MOVE Change Initiative

For more information on WHWH:
What Helps, What Harms Executive Summary
Originally released on Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, May 8, 2014, this document outlines the history of What Helps, What Harms and the journey from local to a national initiative.

What Helps, What Harms Policy
This document is Youth MOVE National’s policy guiding work.

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