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DENVER (KDVR) – May is mental health awareness month, which is why more than 300 teens, young adults and parents all pounced at the opportunity to explore a variety of mental health coping mechanisms at the first-of-its-kind summit, the focus of which was to address the growing mental health crisis being felt across the state.

On Monday, the first-ever “We Got This! Youth Mental Health Summit,” an event organized by young volunteers and the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment, brought participants from around the metro-Denver together to take part in interactive workshops that educate participants on how to properly understand and address issues associated with mental health and suicide.

“The struggles our young people face with their mental health are real. We can better support them and their self-care, and through community involvement, we’ll be better able to break the stigma around suicide and mental health challenges,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said.

According to DDPHE, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Coloradans ranging in age from 10 to 24. Currently, Colorado is among the top-10 states when it comes to the number of suicides recorded, with nearly double the national average.

State data also reveals that the isolation-latent pandemic did not positively mitigate students’ general feelings of hopelessness and sadness either.

According to the state’s Office of Suicide Prevention Annual Report for 2020-2021, the percentage of students who reported an increase in feeling sad in 2019 was 37.1%. Just one year later, that figure rose to 39.5%.

Goals of ‘We Got This!’ Youth Mental Health Summit

  • Educating youth on how to live a mentally healthy lifestyle and help create pathways for youth toward future self-sufficiency.
  • Providing access to information (including coping skills, therapy options, suicide prevention resources, and community help) to support youth suicide prevention in our communities.
  • Teaching youth to recognize the signs of depression and suicide, and how to access help if they are worried about themselves.
  • Helping youth build relationships with their peers to find common humanity in others and transform divisive attitudes and foster acceptance and tolerance by encouraging open, honest dialogue that allows youth to speak their truths.
  • Instilling courage, confidence and character in youth who may feel marginalized or not seen or heard, particularly Youth of Color, LGTBQIA+, and youth with disabilities.

The funding for the We Got This! Summit came from Mayor Hancock’s Denver’s American Rescue Plan Act, which is set to distribute $308 million in ARPA Local Relief Funds. Those executing this effort aim to bolster communities, cities and businesses as they continue to recover from the financially damaging pandemic.

Back on the individual level, if you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, needs emotional help, or wants to address their immediate mental health issues, then please visit the Colorado Crisis Services online, call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text “TALK” to 38255.

The help of a trained professional is just a simple phone call away.