A new campaign called Well Beings is aiming to help the mental health crisis amongst America’s youth. To launch the project, the organization assembled celebrities and mental health professionals to hold a virtual town hall to address the issue of youth mental health.
The event was hosted by numerous celebrities including Billy Porter, Alanis Morissette, Bill Pullman, Jewel, Kid Cudi, and Demi Moore, among many others.
One of the main topics was mental health among LGBTQ youth. Trans actor Ian Alexander, star of Netflix’s The OA, spoke about his experience growing up. He said that when he tried to speak to doctors about being transgender, he was simply told that he was “a confused kid” and that it was just a phase he’d grow out of. Being ignored is only one of the many reasons why LGBTQ youth have increased rates of mental illness.
In fact, the Well Beings organization stated that LGBTQ youth are 5x more likely to attempt suicide.
When asked how the medical and physiological professions could better help LGBTQ individuals, Alexander’s biggest piece of advice was that the industry needed more LGBTQ individuals who better understand the struggles of their community. Furthermore, he stated that the professions also need to hire more people of color who understand the complexities and backgrounds of their communities as well.
The numbers are astonishing and saddening. 1 in 5 children experience mental health issues, and 1 in 5 teens experience cyberbullying, and 30% of teens have attempted self-harm due to cyberbullying.
The negative cycle of childhood also transfers into adulthood. The organization stated that the prison system is disproportionately filled with people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. And in youth prisons, 70.4% of inmates are diagnosed with mental illness, and for many, prison is the first time they receive a diagnosis.
It’s clear that we as a nation need to change. And it won’t be easy. With the racial tensions of 2020 and the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health problems, along with substance abuse, are set to increase dramatically. We need to create a society that’s supportive and offers help to those who need it.
Well Beings is intent on destigmatizing mental health through art, storytelling, and outreach. Throughout the next year, the organization will be producing television programs, in-person events, and online content, all geared at helping those who live with mental illness.
To keep up with the campaign, you can sign up for their newsletter, and check their website for upcoming showtimes.