Staff Articles

Big Minds, Bright(er) Futures

As winter rolls in, brisk and white, it is important to be circumspect about the year to come and our intentions for it. In MHCGM-speak, we often talk about the “why” behind what it is that’s being done. A kind of deep dive into our mission statement, which reads: to empower individuals to achieve recovery and promote personal and community wellness through an accessible, comprehensive, integrated and evidence-based system of mental health care.

For 2019, The Mental Health Center is thrilled to report that our what includes partnering with Granite United Way and the Bean Foundation for the Youth Enrichment Initiative, a 3-year investment that:

  • Utilizes current spaces throughout the city as identified community hubs for youth
  • Brings together traditional and nontraditional youth serving organizations across Manchester
  • Provides access to enrichment programs at no cost to benefit the youth of the city

“This is the single largest commitment to youth our volunteers have made,” says Patrick Tufts, President and CEO of Granite United Way. “Our volunteers made the strategic investment because they were inspired by the collaborative opportunities our nonprofits partners demonstrated. This vision will provide a new level of support to young individuals in our community.”

For the Big Minds, Bright Futures program, MHCGM’s contribution to the Youth Enrichment Initiative, The Center will place a licensed clinician in each of the Manchester’s four middle schools to conduct on-site evaluations and intakes to better meeting the needs of our community’s young people. In addition, MCHGM has committed to providing intakes during out-of-school hours at youth serving organizations (collaborative identified “community hubs”) as well as provide Youth Mental Health First Aid training for the initiative’s partner agencies. Often described as CPR for the mind, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a nationwide 8-hour educational program that in ten short years boasts more than 1 million trainees. Topics of the intensive course include identifying “common risk factors and warning sign of specific types of illnesses, like anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.” The youth version of MHFA targets adults who work with young people ages 12 to 18, emphasizing the importance of identification, empathy/understanding, and early intervention.

And while the “why” behind MHCGM’s Big Minds, Bright Futures program involves a number of data point outlined in Greater Manchester’s latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results, its spirit is perhaps best summarized by UNICEF:

Investing financial resources to help children survive and develop to their full potential is, first and foremost, a moral imperative. But investing in children is also important on practical grounds. It yields positive benefits to economies and societies. Since the foundation of an individual’s health and well-being is laid in early childhood, the most opportune time to break the cycle of poverty, or prevent it from beginning, is during that time. [Programs] that invest in early childhood development could generate considerable cost savings for government. Investments in children are increasingly seen as one of best and most valuable long-term investments we can make.

To know why, then, fills every step of what you aim to accomplish with purpose. With Big Minds, Bright Futures, our purpose is to afford Greater Manchester’s youth every opportunity to thrive.