UMass Forum to Address Ongoing Youth Mental Health Crisis 


Photo: Emily Underworld for Unsplash

UMass will sponsor a health policy forum on the ongoing youth mental health crisis in Western Massachusetts on Wednesday, November 1, from 8:30- 11:45 a.m. The forum, entitled “A Roadmap for Youth Behavioral Health in Western Massachusetts” will be held in the Umass Campus Center Auditorium. A detailed agenda is available hereregister here for the free forum, which includes a continental breakfast between 8:30-9 a.m. Media are welcome.  Parking is available in the campus center garage.

With equitable access to mental health and behavioral health services for youth continuing to be a crisis in the commonwealth, this Massachusetts Health Policy Forum will present a roadmap to help facilitate prevention, support social emotional learning, foster connection and inform policy change for Western Massachusetts. Across Western Massachusetts, 45 percent of youth (ages 14-24) who responded to the survey reported feeling so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that they stopped doing usual activities, according to the COVID-19 Community Impact Survey in 2020. Other youth surveys administered in schools across the region in 2021 showed high rates of depressive symptoms, anxiety and suicidality. 

The forum will include a presentation of the latest research from the region and an action plan, which will be followed by a stakeholder panel discussion, featuring Dr. Robbie Goldstein, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, among others. 

“The surge in the number of adolescents reporting intense feelings of sadness and hopelessness is truly heartbreaking,” Goldstein says. “This behavioral health crisis is particularly alarming among teens who experience racism, LGBTQ+ youth, and girls and young women. It is our collective responsibility to provide the kinds of programs, services and supports that can nurture a generation that not only knows happiness and joy, but also strength and resilience.” 

The forum is co-sponsored by the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts and the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences. It was also made possible by funding from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Baystate Health. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation funded the development of the “roadmap” by the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, working with community-based partners. 

Contact: Risa Silverman,            

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