Resilience Building Network’s mission is to promote resilience in all people by increasing
the understanding of the impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the importance
of building resilience through protective factors such as positive relationships.
MRBN's Mattering Work Highlighted on ABC7/Fox22 in Bangor
MRBN Executive Director Kini-Ana Tinkham spoke with reporter Stephanie Wittenbach from ABC7/Fox22 about Mattering and youth mental health.
Thanks to Shannon Fowles for sharing her perspective as well!
This opinion article was published in the Bangor Daily News June 15, 2021
As the pandemic eases, it is time to focus on youth mental wellbeing
Submitted by Kini-Ana Tinkham, Executive Director, Maine Resilience Building Network& Leslie Forstadt, President, Board of Directors, Maine Resilience Building Network
These are hopeful days in Maine. Vaccination rates are rising. Fewer people are getting COVID-19, and death rates are dropping. Businesses are opening their doors and tourists are flocking to the state. And more federal money is on its way to help repair the damage done by the pandemic.
Repair is necessary. But when it comes to the pandemic’s toll on Mainers’ mental health, it is crucial to include prevention in the recovery plan. Without it, we perpetuate the cycle of repair — endlessly dealing with mental and physical health issues after they occur. We need systems and policies that prioritize primary prevention.
Even before the isolation and disconnect caused by the pandemic, young Mainers were suffering. Maine had the nation’s highest rate of children with diagnosed anxiety disorders and the third highest rate of children with diagnosed depression. Then the pandemic set in, bringing changes in routines, breaks in learning, distance from friends and peers, and loss of safety and security for many of Maine’s youth and families.
Social isolation and loneliness contribute to health issues and even early mortality, rivaling more widely known risk factors such as smoking and obesity. The US CDC recognizes that youth connectedness as an important protective factor for health and well-being. However, not all Maine youth feel connected or supported in their community.
The Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey quantifies the problem by asking middle and high school students if they feel they matter to their communities. In 2019, well before the pandemic, 41 percent of middle school students and 43 percent high schoolers said they feel they don’t matter to their community. Without that sense of connectedness, they lack a key protective factor that could help reduce their risk of anxiety, depression, suicide, and other diseases of despair.
The American Rescue Plan funding coming into Maine provides a unique opportunity to focus significant attention on upstream approaches to build protective factors such as mattering. We should not pass up this chance to build resilience in our youth. In addition to monetary investments in training, education, and policy development, individuals, organizations, and systems must invest time, energy, and caring into ensuring that every youth in Maine understands how much they matter to their community.
This need not be a choice between repair and prevention. By bolstering existing services and supporting school-based mental health services, Maine can help those who are currently coping with challenges. At the same time, we can support community resilience so that youth flourish and grow to be a strong part of our communities and workforce.
And if you’re wondering what supports young people need — ask them. Make them an authentic part of the process. That’s one way to show them that they matter.
LUNCH & LEARN
Grab your lunch and join us!
Building Positive Relationships with Youth
TUESDAY, JUNE 22
FREE Zoom Session
In response to requests from MRBN members, we are excited to partner with the Maine Youth Action Network for a Lunch & Learn focused on building positive relationships with youth.
In this interactive session, the MYAN team will lead participants in an exploration of authentic youth-adult partnerships. Every young person is unique; understanding core youth values and structural inequities young people are navigating better prepares all adults to build positive relationships with Maine youth.
KIDS COUNT Data Discussion
FRIDAY, JUNE 18
FREE Zoom Session
Join us for a Lunch & Learn presentation and discussion of the newly released 2021 Maine KIDS COUNT Data Book with Helen Hemminger from the Maine Children's Alliance. The Maine KIDS COUNT Data Book is the comprehensive report of the physical, social, economic, and educational well-being of children in Maine. The Data Book can serve as a useful resource to advocates and decision makers to ensure policies and programs are centered in supporting and strengthening families.
SAFE SPACES & SMALL ACTS
More than 40 percent of middle and high school students in Maine don’t feel they matter in their communities. Given that Mattering is a protective factor for mental health issues and diseases of despair, that statistic is particularly alarming in a state that leads the nation in youth diagnosed with anxiety and where an increasing number of young people report considering suicide.
The Maine Resilience Building Network launched Cultivating Mattering for Maine Youth in response to the data and research that builds a compelling case for the need for communities to ensure that young people feel seen, heard, and valued.
Nearly 500 civic & business leaders, educators, healthcare professionals, public safety leaders & staff, lawmakers, organizations, and community members participated. in a statewide series of Community Conversations identified strategies and approaches that support Mattering, which are summed up the newly-released report Building a Culture for Community Resilience: Safe Spaces and Small Acts.
For work in communities to be sustainable, policies and systems must be in place to support them. With this report, MRBN offers communities and policy makers a starting point to work together to ensure that Maine youth matter.
to everyone who participated in our Cultivating Mattering for Maine Youth Community Conversations!
MRBN leads and supports a network across Maine to build resilience and well-being by providing systems that strengthen children, family, workplace, and community connections. MRBN is at the forefront of thought leadership and action to bring about positive changes that address systemic inequities and root causes of poor health outcomes related to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
MRBN provides statewide network meetings, professional development and training programs, and contributes to state and local policy development.
Join us and get connected.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
MRBN Members & Friends: Please seek help right away if you have trouble coping or feel overwhelmed or are worried about a friend or loved one. The Maine Statewide Crisis Hotline is available 24/7. For assistance, call 1-888-569-1112 or call 211, Maine's Resource Line.
The Teen Peer Support Text Line 207-515-8398, for ages 14-20, staffed by people under 23 years old.
Please view MRBN's Wellness Resources
Written by : Anndee Hochman for the Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) Shared Learnings series.