HMI STAFFERS ILLUMINATE NATIONAL CONVERSATIONS: ADVOCACY IN SEXUAL HEALTH EDUCATION AND MENTAL WELLNESS
Our dedicated staff members are not just colleagues; they are passionate advocates committed to making a positive impact on the lives of young people. We’re thrilled to share some recent highlights of how our HMI team has been actively contributing to the greater community, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of education, mental health, and advocacy.
Camille Gaji (HMI Educational Specialist, Sexual Health) and Pearl McAndrews (HMI Educational Specialist, Peer Education) recently participated in the 2023 National Sex Ed Conference in Atlantic City. Their presentation, titled “The Gay Agenda: A Focused View on LGBTQIA+ Needs in Sexual Health Education,” was one of several insightful discussions held at the conference, the largest of its kind in the U.S. dedicated to sexuality educators.
Camille and Pearl’s contribution was an integral part of the conference’s rich tapestry. Their presentation delved into the intricacies of sexual health education, emphasizing the unique needs of the LGBTQIA+ community. By participating in this collective effort, they played a crucial role in promoting a more inclusive and comprehensive approach to sexuality education.
Asha Alexander, LCSW (HMI Assistant Director of Counseling and Case Management), has been at the forefront of mental health advocacy. Asha recently lent her expertise to a panel that consulted on the newly released report by The JED Foundation, titled “Youth Suicide: Current Trends and the Path to Prevention.”
This comprehensive report goes beyond mere statistics, providing actionable insights into the mental health challenges faced by young people today. Asha, alongside other esteemed panel experts, including The JED Foundation’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Laura Erickson-Schroth (HMI Psychiatrist), analyzed data on youth mental health and suicide. Their collective efforts resulted in evidence-based recommendations aimed at lowering youth suicide rates.
The report, a crucial resource in understanding the factors influencing this generation, identifies specific groups of youth at higher risk and offers recommendations on how to protect them and ultimately save lives. Asha’s dedication to mental health advocacy aligns seamlessly with HMI’s mission to empower queer and trans youth, ensuring they have the resources and support needed to navigate the complexities of their mental well-being.
Key highlights from the report include:
- 10% of high school students attempted suicide in the past year.
- Black youth (ages 10 to 24) experienced the fastest increase in suicide rates between 2010 and 2020, with the rate almost doubling (a 90% increase).
- American Indian/Alaska Native teens and young adults have the highest suicide rate across all racial groups — almost twice as high as the overall national average.
- LGBTQIA+ youth are at higher risk for suicidal thoughts and attempts than cisgender heterosexual youth.
- Young women’s (ages 15 to 24) suicide rates are increasing faster than young men’s, doubling in the past two decades.
- Rural youth are almost twice as likely to die by suicide than those who live in large urban areas.
- Youth (ages 10 to 24) involved with the criminal legal system die by suicide at rates two to three times higher than the general youth population.
- Firearms are the leading method of suicide death overall, and approximately 90% of attempts are fatal.
Learn more and download the report here.
We couldn’t be prouder of our staff members who continually go above and beyond to contribute meaningfully to the community. These inspiring efforts reaffirm our commitment to creating a world where every young person is celebrated and supported. As we celebrate these accomplishments, we look forward to more opportunities to make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve.