Arizona’s Pima County launches ‘Not Alone’ campaign for youth and school staff
On March 9th, the Pima County Health Department launched the “Not Alone” initiative, which addresses the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on K-12 students and faculty members. The campaign aims to communicate to young people experiencing mental health challenges to know that they are not alone in their struggles. It is funded by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).
The initiative offers free and individual counseling sessions through COPE Community Services, Inc., which is a healthcare organization that provides comprehensive programs, specialty services, resources, and supports to address general mental health, substance use issues, serious mental illness, physical healthcare, and wellness concerns.
The campaign is also partnering with pop star Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, which supports the mental health of youth and works with them to build a kinder and braver world. The Born This Way Foundation offers high-impact programming, youth-led conversations, and strategic and cross-sectoral partnerships that aim to make kindness cool, validate the emotions of young people, and eliminate stigma surrounding mental health. The foundation’s “Be There” certificate program also provides peer-to-peer support.
Matthew Schmidgall and Michael Webb of the Pima County Health Department’s Youth and School Communities program will both be overseeing the Not Alone campaign, which was designed with input and guidance from youth.
“Recent data being released about youth mental health is alarming,” Schmidgall said in a press release. “Suicide remains the third leading cause of death for adolescents, and one-in-three high school students recently reported that their mental health was not good. The Not Alone campaign was designed with these concerns in mind and aims to connect young people to the resources they need.”
The 2022 Kids Count Data Book by the Annie E. Casey Foundation tracks state trends in child wellbeing. Arizona ranked 44th out of all states for overall child well-being. Arizona also ranked 29th for child health, which takes into account healthy births, exposure to violence, family stress, inadequate housing, lack of preventative care, poor nutrition, and poverty and substance use. Data also shows that Arizona had 632 child and teen deaths per 100,000 in 2020.
Part of the Not Alone initiative includes the partnership with several Pima County school districts, a comprehensive advertising campaign that is targeted to youth through social media and digital platforms, movie theaters, and other market placements such as on billboards and within radio ads.
During a regular meeting on March 7th, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved of the Epidemiology Laboratory Capacity K-12 Schools Reopening Grant. The grant seeks to ensure that students and staff of K-12 schools have the tools and resources necessary to minimize the negative effects brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including addressing the mental health impact.