We have all been impacted by the pandemic this year. In addition to its toll on the health of many of our loved ones, the additional social isolation and uncertainty have felt especially disruptive to our lives. In response to the impacts of COVID-19 on individual’s mental health and the well-being of our community, LAYC has made mental health a priority area in serving our youth and families.
The youth we serve are facing multiple challenges that threaten their sense of stability. Many feel additional burdens or worries as they experience parents losing their jobs, families facing eviction, and relatives who are sick with COVID-19 or are serving as essential workers in jobs that put them more at risk of contracting the virus. At the same time that youth are struggling with remote learning, many are serving as caregivers to younger siblings and parents recuperating from the virus, and worry about having their basic needs met.
The impact of the persistent stigma around mental health challenges and seeking support, particularly in Black and brown communities, is also noticeable. One mother, Lisa, has expressed her regret for initially not taking her teenage daughter Lauren’s requests for counseling seriously, and telling her she was “fine”.
“ I grew up thinking that…if you needed counseling, you were crazy. That when someone is struggling internally with something, they should ‘just deal with it.’” -Lisa, mother of LAYC youth
Meeting the increasing demand for mental health support
LAYC has seen a dramatic increase in the need for counseling among our youth, who are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and/or anxious. Since mid-March, we have seen a 50% increase in referrals for mental health support. During this period, we have provided counseling and case management services to 429 youth, including 243 youth who were newly enrolled during the pandemic.
Our staff have adapted mental health services to virtual settings to keep youth connected and safe while providing the support and treatment they need to heal and recover. We cannot underestimate how important these connections are for our young people. In some cases, LAYC counselors are the only person they talk to on a regular basis, giving them a sense of belonging, encouragement, and hope at a critical moment in their lives.
As the pandemic continues to impact our communities, your financial support will provide compassionate mental health services and hope for youth and their families struggling through this trying time. To provide mental health support to a youth year-round, please consider joining LAYC’s Heroes Circle of monthly sustainers.
This month, you can double your year-end giving impact! Alice and Russell True Foundation is generously matching up to $50,000 for all new or increased individual donations.
Thank you for helping us continue to lift up our youth and families and give them hope for the new year.
LAYC President & CEO