Aligning Resources Across Georgia To Support Resiliency
To Our Resilient Georgia Partners and Stakeholders:
We recognize that it has been a hard year filled with social isolation & upheaval, anxiety, stress and mental health struggles for many, and that it has hit some teens the hardest. Here is a free toolkit with 6 yoga and mindfulness tools for youth to help, and if you know a Georgia teen who'd like to make a difference in the mental health of their peers, ask them to check out the VOX ATL Teen Mental Health Collective. A VOX ATL teen shares her experience with helping a friend with depression in this thoughtfully penned WABE article, and if you have a teenager who is struggling, Dr. Perri Klass recently wrote this helpful New York Times column on what parents can do.  The focus of our next Resilient Georgia General Meeting in June will be Teen Mental Health, and we will have several experts share leading practices & innovative efforts to bolster teen mental health across the state. Please mark your calendar for June 10th, from 11:00 am -12:30 pm. We will be sending out a meeting invitation in the near future.

Resilient Georgia, The Carter Center, the Georgia Parity Collaborative and partners are urging enforcement of mental health parity in the Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission’s recently released first-year report. The Commission's Hospital and Short Term Care Facilities Subcommittee, chaired by Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Resilient Georgia's Executive Board Chair, stresses parity as a top recommendation to help Georgia build capacity, flourish, and improve access to behavioral health services. To learn more, please see recent news coverage at GPB News and The Carter Center's newly released Mental Health Access Policy Brief on this topic.

For this newsletter's regional coalition spotlight, we hope you take a moment to read about the impressive work that the Coastal Georgia STRONG Coalition is doing.
We would also like to highlight the following resources and news updates:
  • We are so proud of Tucker Middle School students for qualifying as national finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest with their anti-human trafficking invention. You can support them by voting for their video here until April 26th.
  • NAMI Georgia is offering 'NAMI Ending the Silence' presentation - a 50 minute or 90 minute mental health awareness program for middle and high school age youth, parents and other primary caregivers, and adults who work with youth. Click here to request this free training and contact [email protected] for more information.
  • Parents can look to this GCAPP Parent toolkit for help navigating hard conversations with their children and young people. Also, join the GCAPP on April 29th for their 3rd Annual State of Adolescents: Healthier Together, Perspectives on Our Teen’s Mental Wellness.
  • Check out this new toolkit from the Free Your Feels campaign, a mental health awareness campaign encouraging Georgia's young people to explore their real feelings and share them fearlessly.
Thank you as always for your continued partnership and support, and for continuing to share helpful resources and training with us to disseminate as we all work collectively towards a more resilient and trauma-informed Georgia! 


Brenda Fitzgerald, MD
Executive Board Chair
Emily Anne Vall, PhD
Executive Director
Regional Coalition Spotlight
Can you give us a brief description of Coastal Georgia Strong Coalition?

The Coastal GA Strong coalition focuses its evidence based endeavors with targeted populations to increase the mental well-being of children and young people (0-19 years) by providing training and support for families, educators, and providers who serve them.

Coastal Georgia STRONG
Coalition Geographic Service Area: Bryan, Chatham, Effingham

What are some of the innovative partnerships that have helped address the behavioral health needs of the region?

The Coastal GA Coalition primary partners include Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council, Coastal GA Indicators Coalition, Gateway Behavioral Service Board, and Loop It Up Savannah.
What are some accomplishments you would like to highlight?
  • Over 8,000 community members participated in Suicide Prevention training to include ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and Mindful Self-Compassion Training in Bryan, Chatham, and Effingham counties
  • 500 Mindfulness @ Home Tool Boxes were distributed to children and families throughout Chatham County including eight 21st Century Schools in collaboration with 5 schools who are a part of GA-APEX and The Front Porch.
  • 100 counselors and teachers from the public schools took part in the first Trauma Informed Education Symposium (TIES)
  • 575 MH providers, non-profits agencies, and public partners attended the Annual Mental Health Symposium held virtually over 5 weeks

Click here to read more about the amazing work the Coastal GA STRONG Coalition is doing to address the needs of the region.

Teen Mental Health
Leading up to our second general meeting in June, we would like to spotlight the mental health needs of young people and include helpful resources that focus on teen mental health. This Mind/Shift article highlights the effects of widespread grief and trauma from COVID-19 and all the ways it can hinder learning for students. Educators and mental health professionals worry that it is unclear whether schools will be able to prioritize healing.

Mental Health America reported results of a new survey that shed light on what was supporting young people during the pandemic and what they think would help them in the present and future. They also reported that young people either do not have access to mental health services or feel like the services do not fully satisfy their needs. This article by The Mighty gives a closer look at the rising rates of mental health conditions, including suicidal ideation, and advocates for leaders to listen and take action on what young people want.

Looking toward resources, this Voices of Georgia factsheet provides a localized view of youth suicide with these sobering statistics on Youth Suicide in Georgia. The factsheet also includes warning signs of suicidal behavior along with protective factors. Finally, in this episode of NPR's LifeKit, experts offer helpful tips for how to spot signs of depression and anxiety in teens and how to help.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Did you know that brain development is not only shaped by what happens in our own lives but by things that have happened to our parents before we were even conceived? A new study out of NYU, Columbia University, and Emory University has shown that early life experiences can have an outsized effect on brain development and neurobiological health in ways that can even be passed down to subsequent generations. In other words, infants born to moms who faced a lot of stress or ACEs growing up may have a heightened fear-threat and stress response. These findings highlight the importance of emotional support early in life, and rolling out a lot more support for parents, especially during these stressful pandemic times when so many moms are overwhelmed.

Since the onset of the pandemic, parents have struggled to support their children's learning at home due to the increased isolation and lack of routines. We know that when children experience multiple forms of adversity, the impacts are magnified. We would like to share a resource from Child & Family Blog that identifies 10 relationships and resources proven to counter the impact of adverse experiences. Finally, Dr. Christina Bethell, director of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, found that many people who experienced ACEs also had positive experiences as children that made a difference in adulthood. 
COVID-19 Resources
  • Christina Proctor, clinical assistant professor at the University of Georgia, reflects on the importance of empathy and connection for students as schools return for in-person learning in this column piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Take a few minutes to read and look over these mini essays and art pieces created by teens across the United States about "how they have met life's challenges in the midst of a pandemic".
  • This recent article from NPR provides a well-balanced read on the impacts of COVID-19 on incarcerated young people.
  • Hear Teresa Johnson, assistant vice president for student affairs at Kennesaw State University, discuss KSU's expanded mental health resources for students during the pandemic on NPR's Closer Look.
Racial Equity Resources
  • Thank you to Ms. Cornelia King and the Healthy Heart Coalition for sharing this powerful video on Black Mental Health in America: Redefining Resilience. Watch as Dr. Nicole Cammack, CEO of Black Mental Wellness, discusses how we can redefine resilience and mental health care in the Black community.
  • Learn more about Tufts Medical Center and partners recently launched HOPE (Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences) Framework, an anti-racism framework that provides practical and tangible tools to change policies and practices with the goal of increasing access to Positive Childhood Experiences for all kids.
  • Educators can refer to the Learning for Justice website for free curriculum and practices resources that work towards creating inclusive school communities.
Be sure to read additional resources on the topics above, and more, here.
“When we learn how to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of the human experience.”

- Jaeda Dewalt