The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB) is once again offering mini-grants for youth-led projects to reduce stigma among their peers, using funds from a suicide prevention grant from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.
These mini-grants will fund youth-planned, youth-led projects within Fairfax County, Fairfax City, and Falls Church City, to be completed by June 11, 2020. A total of $6,000 is available, for requests not to exceed $1,000 each.
Marla Zometsky, Director of CSB Wellness, Health Promotion & Prevention services says that one of the goals of the initiative is to help reduce the stigma around mental illness and to promote help-seeking behaviors
"Approximately one in five youth aged 13-18 have or will have a serious mental illness,” says Zometsky. She added, "And suicide is also the third leading cause of death in youth ages 10-24. Mental health disorders are not only common, they are treatable and help is available. Through these youth-led initiatives, we aim to support youth taking the lead to foster a positive atmosphere to promote help-seeking behaviors, reduce stigma and lead the community towards positive change." (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)
Here are some ideas from previous years' grant awardees:
- Using Positivity to Improve Teenage Girls Confidence: Approximately 2,100 students who attend Lake Braddock Secondary School will be able to reap the benefits of the "Using Positivity to Improve Teenage Girls Confidence" project. This group of dedicated young people created an initiative that provided confidence boosts and positive self-talk tools for their peers by painting positive messages on the stalls and walls of girl’s locker rooms and restrooms throughout the school. They were also able to provide information about mental health resources to the students by attaching these resources to all the bathroom stall doors.
- Walk in Our Shoes (CPDC): Throughout a course of three months, Ayesha Abdullahi and Ahlam Ali (of CPDC) met with a hundred students at five different affordable housing sites (Island Walk, Cameron Crescent, Cedar Ridge, West Glade, and Stonegate apartments) to provide interactive lessons about mental health awareness. Throughout the project, the pair taught youth how to stop or reduce stigma, how to cope with both mental health conditions and the stigma that comes along with them, and how to help someone with a mental health condition - both dealing with students with mental disabilities and helping them find the resources to get better. During their initiative they were able to engage students from first through 12th grades.
- The Community Preservation and Development Corporation met with 32 youth, from ages 6 to 18 years enrolled in the Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program in the Island Walk community center in Reston. The collective taught the youth how to stop, reduce and cope with stigma relating to mental health conditions. They also learned how to help someone with a mental health challenge and how to find resources for them.
Proposals are due Friday, September 27, 2019.
Contact for news media inquiries: CSB Communications Team, 703-324-7000.