IU Health and NCHS Supporting Teen Cafes to Improve Mental Health in Teens

Indiana University Health and North Central Health Services (NCHS) are stepping up to provide funding for west central Indiana communities to create new resources to address teen mental health struggles.

According to Mental Health America, the youth population in the United States is at the greatest risk of developing and living with severe depression or mental illness.

Funding from IU Health and NCHS will allow 13 organizations to implement #WoWTalk (Words of Wisdom)Cafés,referred to as TeenCafés, through Be Strong Families.

Be Strong Families is internationally known as an innovator in using structured, small group conversations, calledCafés, to facilitate transformation and healing, build community, develop peer-to-peer relationships and engage teens as partners in the programs that serve them.

The 13 organizations that received funding are currently attending a two-day training program learning how to facilitate Teen Cafés. Each organization will then host six – 12 Teen Cafés with middle and high school youth during the two-year grant period, (January 2023 – December 2024). Each Teen Café will have a theme, food and an incentive for participation—all of which is included in the funding each organization received.

“Teen Cafés are physically and emotionally safe spaces where teens talk and listen to each other on topics that matter to them,” explains Stephanie Long, president of NCHS. “Through individual deep self-reflection and peer-to-peer learning, participants explore their strength, learn about the Protective Factors and create strategies from their own wisdom and experiences.”

The 13 organizations that received grant funding for the Teen Cafés are:

  • Healthy Communities of Clinton County Coalition
  • IMPACT at Abba Place in Mulberry
  • CORE Community Center (formerly known as Clinton County YMCA)
  • Recovery Café Lafayette
  • Tippecanoe School Corporation
  • Upper Room Youth Center in Delphi
  • Purdue University – The Family Health Clinics – Delphi
  • Boy Scouts of America, Sagamore Council
  • White County United Way
  • Lafayette Family YMCA (two locations)
  • Lyn Treece Boys & Girls Club of Tippecanoe County (two locations)
  • Attica Junior-Senior High School
  • Hanna Community Center

“These organizations serve teens across west central Indiana. We are confident that with this training, the Teen Cafés they will host will have an impact on the mental health of our teens,” shares Melissa Dexter, community outreach and engagement manager for IU Health Arnett, Frankfort and White Memorial.

In 2021, local community health needs assessments were independently conducted by IU Health, NCHS and Franciscan Health to identify the most significant health needs for the region. During this process, adolescent behavioral health was recognized as a priority for each entity. Therefore, the three major health systems in west central Indiana decided to collaborate on a unified approach to address this important community health need. Funding of the Teen Cafés complements funding made available by Franciscan Health to organizations to host ParentCafés, also through Be Strong Families.

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