On May 3rd, Step Forward’s Teen Advisory Committee hosted its second annual Northwest Louisiana Teen Summit on Mental Wellness. The Teen Advisory Committee (TAC) members surveyed 580 area high school students and discussed the results with more than 50 delegates at the NWLA Teen Summit.
The survey found 83.7% of participants had experienced challenges that negatively impacted their physical or emotional well-being. Students mostly faced these challenges in school (82.7%), their homes (81.3%), and online (28.2%). Four out of five students believe they do not or are unsure they have access to mental wellness resources at school. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a detrimental impact on students’ wellbeing, with 64.8% reporting their mental health has worsened since the start of online learning.
From the survey results, TAC members proposed solutions to increase awareness and access to wellness resources in schools. Some of the proposed solutions include visible resources posted throughout school campuses, helpful “Wellness Wednesday” tips during morning announcements, a wellness presentation during student orientation, and a TAC table during lunch to provide awareness, wellness resources, and peer support.
Caddo Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. Lamar Goree responded with appreciation, stating “Step Forward has proven its commitment to addressing students’ mental and educational needs with a focus squarely on the voices of students in our community. Social-emotional learning and practices aligned to enhance mental health services in our schools are a top priority for Caddo Schools’ administration and we look forward to seeing additional services offered as soon as the upcoming school year. These plans were developed with feedback from our students to determine their greatest needs and where we can grow to be a school system better focused on the needs of the whole child.”
In the upcoming school year, the Teen Advisory Committee will continue to evaluate the needs of students and focus on building resilience and mental health awareness among teens, including assessing the effects of COVID-19 on Northwest Louisiana students. The group’s goals also include exploring issues that impact the health, education, and engagement of teens and young adults in North Louisiana. This includes topics such as professional development, career planning, teen voter registration, and other community projects. The committee works closely with a group of adult advisors and coaches made up of local professionals, officials, and community leaders.
TAC is a program of Step Forward, an initiative from Community Foundation of North Louisiana that aims at improving educational outcomes for students of all ages in Northwest Louisiana. To learn more, visit cfnla.org/tac.