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Girls Inc. Week 2018: The Importance of Mental Health Awareness

By Brita Higgins, YWCA Girls and Youth Counselor
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This year, Girls Inc. Week, May 5 – 12, was dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of mental health and eradicating the stigma around mental illness. At YWCA Minneapolis, Girls Inc. youth participated in activities that focused on supporting positive mental health for girls.  

Why Mental Health?

Mental health is important at every stage of life and is critical for a young person’s short-term and long-term success. Not addressing mental health issues can have dangerous consequences – suicide remains the second leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10-24. Girls today face a broad range of mental, social and emotional health challenges stemming from the pressures to please others and succeed, as well as the effects of media, prejudices, inequality and violence.

“Dear Girl” Letters

Individuals in Girls Inc. groups were invited to write letters of support to a girl who might be feeling alone or share some strategies that work for them when they feel stressed. Some suggested asking a friend or family member for help, and others shared that doing something they enjoy or eating good food helped them.

Mind and Body

Based on the acknowledgment that stress can be felt both mentally and physically in the form of somatic symptoms, participants were asked to name an emotion they feel and where they feel it in the body. One participant wrote “fear of failure” on the chest. Another wrote “misunderstood” on the head. By naming the emotions in the body, participants are practicing a common mindfulness technique; bringing an awareness to the present moment and grounding oneself in the body.

Be Bold! Boxing Workshop

In partnership with Circle of Discipline boxing gym, Girls Inc. youth attended a workshop about positive techniques for stress management and an introduction to boxing. At Circle of Discipline, the youth worked with trainers to learn basic boxing techniques and completed a short workout. Girls discussed what caused them stress, whether or not stress could be positive in some situations and shared ideas on what they do to relieve stress.

Learn more about Girls and Youth Programs