WASHINGTON (May 24, 2023) -- Beacon House, a Black-led, Black-benefiting non-profit afterschool education and youth development organization serving children and families in Northeast Washington, DC, has partnered with the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health (MCH) at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health to launch a new mental health focused website for DC youth and their parents and caregivers during May, which is nationally recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month.
Today’s youth are in the midst of a mental health crisis, according to public health experts. In 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association joined forces to declare a “National State of Emergency'' - “inextricably tied to the stress brought on by COVID-19 and the ongoing struggle for racial justice” - in children’s mental health.
Further, according to the American Psychological Association, Black youth are less likely to seek mental health treatment due to a range of issues including stigmas and shortages of diverse mental health professionals. In the District of Columbia, Ward 5 - the residential area in which Beacon House is based - ranks third among all DC wards with respect to depressed mood and suicide ideation among middle school students and second among high school students.
“We know that students of ours are struggling with the pandemic’s effects, and we also know that Black and Brown children face significant disparities in receiving mental health services. We are pleased to have partnered with the GW Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health to launch this new youth mental health website at a time when mental health resources have become increasingly difficult to access,” says Kevin Hinton, Beacon House’s CEO/Executive Director. The website provides Beacon House’s students and parents with an interactive directory of online and in-person mental health supports, including: podcast and video content, organized by areas of interest and need, for youth and for adults; online and in-person therapy provider information for youth and for adults; mobile mental health services; and emergency hotlines.
Beacon House and GW developed the website as part of Beacon House’s Building Resilient Youth through Connection and Empowerment (BRYCE) initiative. Beacon House launched BRYCE in collaboration with GW in 2020 to build its capacity to address the mental health needs of its students. BRYCE has three goals: (1) Strengthen Beacon House’s organizational ability to respond to youth mental health crises (2) Create opportunities to strengthen youth and family resilience and promote positive youth development (3) Establish ways that Beacon House’s students and families can easily access meaningful mental health resources.
“We are proud to partner with Beacon House on the Building Resilient Youth through Connection and Empowerment project,” says GW Associate Professor Monica S. Ruiz, PhD, co-director of the GW MCH Center of Excellence’s Innovation Lab. “Mental health supports are needed now more than ever to help youth cope with stressors, build resilience, and thrive. We are working with Beacon House to provide resources tailored to meet the specific needs of the community it serves.”
About Beacon House
Beacon House is a Black-led, Black-benefiting afterschool education and youth development nonprofit organization serving children and families in the District of Columbia since 1991. Beacon House’s mission is to promote the academic advancement and personal growth of children in Washington, DC’s Edgewood neighborhood. Beacon House envisions a future in which children in Edgewood become empowered lifelong learners who achieve their greatest potential. Beacon House is recognized by the Catalog for Philanthropy: Greater Washington as “One of the Best” nonprofit organizations in the DC region, and its students and programs have been highlighted in recent years by national afterschool organizations including the Afterschool Alliance, National Afterschool Association and the 50 State Afterschool Network. Learn more at www.beaconhousedc.org
About GW Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health
GW Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health is one of thirteen outstanding MCH programs across the country, all working to ensure our country has a strong pipeline of professional and academic talent to serve the physical and mental health needs of women, children, youth, and families. Located within the Department of Prevention and Community Health at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, its world-class faculty provides educational and research opportunities to students through their global and domestic work in areas including maternal health; women's and adolescent health; reproductive health; obesity; mental health; and violence against women. Learn more at https://mch.publichealth.gwu.edu/.