California’s youth have a mental health crisis. only they can solve it

How can we best address the mental health crisis among California’s youth?

By empowering the youth to solve it themselves.

Gonzales (population 8,600) in Monterey County is doing just that. Since the beginning of 2020, middle school and high school students — members of the Gonzales Youth Council, a parallel city council — have been developing a mental health strategy for their community with such potential that a study recently published by a peer Published in Review magazine. ,

It’s no surprise that it happened in Gonzales, a Salinas Valley miracle of self-governance with a working-class population that is 90 percent Latino and a third under the age of 18. Over the past generation, the city has prioritized public participation and youth empowerment in community problem-solving – a strategy known as “The Gonzales Way”. In the process, Gonzales has made amazing strides in everything from economic development to energy independence and won national awards for community health programs.

Gonzales’ youth council – a body elected by sixth through 12th grade students – has real power, which it has used to write local laws on underage drinking, assist with police-community relations efforts, and recruit in local schools. done to participate.

In the fall of 2019, the Youth Council of Commissioners resolved to focus their energies on mental health. When the pandemic struck, he accelerated his plans.

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