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Colorado: "Youth mental health needs... rising at a rapid rate"

Oct 25, 2019, Denver Post: Kaiser Permanente Colorado is Teaming Up with Schools to Raise Mental Health Awareness Youth mental health needs — anxiety, depression, and suicide — are rising at a rapid rate in Colorado. It’s clear more can and must be done to improve access to mental health care and resources. That’s why Kaiser Permanente Colorado, the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, is teaming up with local high schools this fall to unveil “Ghosted”, an interactive play and workshop designed to address mental health needs, breakdown stigma, and provide resources to teens and teachers. “More now than ever, high school students are open to talking about and exploring mental health,” said Brian Harper, Kaiser Permanente Colorado senior community health specialist and local “Ghosted”* lead. … “Ghosted” is an hour-long interactive play that follows four high school students as they navigate a typical day at school. The play features each actor showcasing complex emotions — from anger brought on by issues in the home to guilt brought on by not knowing what to say to someone who is contemplating suicide. The cast then engages the audience in a 20-minute open conversation, examining the themes of the play, and asking students how they might handle each of the four characters’ emotions. After the play, students participate in a 60-minute workshop in their classrooms, working with their teachers and “Ghosted” program facilitators to address suicide prevention. Teachers, staff, and students are provided with additional mental health resources and helpful guides during the workshop. … “Ghosted” is part of Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s larger commitment to improving mental health in Colorado schools and communities. In August 2019, Kaiser Permanente Colorado announced a new collaboration with Douglas County School District to provide mental health training to school staff and teachers, as well as $99,999 in community benefit support. In the spring of 2019, Kaiser Permanente Colorado also announced the launch of Resilience in School Environments Understanding and Practice (RISE UP), a complementary learning session for school staff, administrators, and teachers, designed to foster resilience and support school staff as they work with traumatized students. “The mental health needs of Coloradans, especially teens, are increasing year after year. We know one of the best ways to reach our state’s youth is by creating an environment at school where they are open to talking and learning about the tough topics of depression, anxiety, and suicide,” said Amy Whited, Kaiser Permanente Colorado senior director of communications, community health & engagement…. “Ghosted” — run by Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s Arts Integrated Resources (AIR) department — is available at no cost to all Colorado schools in the areas of the state where Kaiser Permanente operates. The production will run now through Nov. 22, 2019. Schools are also able to book “Ghosted” for the spring 2020 semester.

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