Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley and Terros Health will provide free behavioral health services to youth at a time when they need it most, thanks to a collaboration between the Arizona Department of Education and three Arizona-based private foundations – The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation, the Diane & Bruce Halle Foundation, and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.

The “Whole Child Approach” Program will help alleviate social and emotional stress among children and teens between the ages of 5-18 in Boys & Girls Clubs in Maricopa and Pinal counties who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Beginning this fall, Terros Health will embed behavioral health coaches into 10 of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley’s Clubs. Each year, the program will expand until it’s running in all 30 Clubs. Terros staff members will work to assess the mental and physical health of children and youth. This will be accomplished through interaction with their peers, age-appropriate games, and other activities that promote recovery and teach youth developmental skills that reinforce their success in school, work and life using evidence-based Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula.

“This is a way to identify the challenges our kids are experiencing without judgment or stigma,” said Dr. Karen Tepper, president and CEO of Terros Health. The behavioral health specialists will use a variety of therapeutic interventions, including mindfulness activities to help kids manage their emotions, along with art therapy and life skills training. The team will recommend additional treatment for youth, as needed. “The idea is to fill in the gaps for mental health services and improve access to treatment.”

In its 2021 State of Mental Health in America report, Mental Health America noted that youth between the ages of 11 and 17 were more likely than any other age group to experience moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and depression. The report also found that nationwide, 60% of youth with depression do not receive mental health treatment, even in states with the greatest access to care.

Arizona ranks nearly last (49th) in the nation for high prevalence of mental illness and a severe lack of access to behavioral health care for youth.

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