Each May, we recognize Mental Health Awareness Month as a time to advocate for the mental health and well-being of all.   

Exploring the Connection 

You may be asking: What does Healthy Futures of Texas’ mission to provide young Texans with equitable access to sexual health education and resources have to do with mental health?

As it turns out – plenty! 

Being an ally to young adults means recognizing the stress they often feel when navigating difficult questions and choices related to their sexuality. Body image issues, romantic relationships, and peer pressure to “fit in” can create a perfect mental health storm for young people – especially when they lack information and appropriate guidance. In fact, studies show that youth with mental health concerns are more likely to engage in risk-oriented sexual behavior.

With this in mind, Healthy Futures of Texas recently hosted an online discussion with a panel of experts to highlight the topic: “Mental Health & Sexual Health: What’s the Connection?” 

Sexual Health & Mental Health Awareness – LinkedIn Live 

This LinkedIn Live event featured Pennie Beauchamp, Executive Director of Mental Health America of Greater Dallas; Regina Walker, Director of Child and Adolescent Services at MetroCare; Healthy Futures’ CEO, Eveyln Delgado, and the organization’s Texas Youth Advocates Program Manager, Sophia Montemayor.

Moderated by HFTX board member Cimajie Best, the panelists addressed a wide range of issues, including the state of mental health for young people today and the pressures they face regarding their sexual health and behaviors. Panelists also provided critical insights “from the trenches” about how to help high-school-aged youth develop the interpersonal skills and self-confidence needed to build healthy relationships. 

WATCH THE FULL LINKEDIN LIVE HERE. 

“It is a huge benefit for our children to have access to healthy, factual sexual health education. It facilitates socio-emotional learning, grows an appreciation and respect for self and others, enhances personal and interpersonal competence, and helps with mental health coping and problem-solving abilities.” – Pennie Beauchamp, Mental Health America of Greater Dallas

Importantly, the panel of experts also offered guidance on what parents or caregivers should look for if they suspect a child is experiencing a mental health issue. They also highlighted the importance of creating safe spaces and providing youth with opportunities to talk about their questions and concerns.

“Sometimes young people just need someone to vent to; sometimes young people need information or perspective. The sex education curriculums we teach encourage young people to talk to their families and trusted adults about values. Be open-minded and accepting.” – Sophia Montemayor, HFTX

One such platform for students to express themselves is Healthy Futures’ annual Student Film Contest. The program allows students to submit a 3-minute film that elevates their voice to help adults understand the issues and pressures that teens face. This year’s contest explored the connection between mental health and sexual health.

Creating a safe place for awareness and validation of emotions is key! The way youth socialize and interact with others, be it with family, friends, peers, or teachers, will impact other aspects of their lives. Social skills help children to form positive relationships, have conversations, develop body language, cooperate, share, and thrive.” Regina Walker, MetroCare

The connection between mental and sexual health is undeniable, and so is the need to ensure that our youth have the information, skills, and support to navigate the challenges of adolescence. 

“When it comes to sexual health and mental health, knowledge is key. Positive sexual health begins with access to sex education. If we want young people to make smart decisions about their sexual health and relationships, we must provide them with age-appropriate, medically accurate information.” – Evelyn Delgado, HFTX

 

Mental Health Month Toolkit:

 

For anyone struggling with the pressure of today’s world, feeling alone, or wondering if they can feel better, this “Mental Health America: Where to Start” toolkit can help. The free resources include DIY tools, social media assets, resources, templates, printable handouts, and more! 

 

While we formally recognize Mental Health Month in May, at Healthy Futures of Texas, we’re committed to the well-being of Texas youth year-round.

 

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